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Siege of Pompeii, ends after 11 June 89 BC


Siege of Pompeii, ends after 11 June 89 BC

The siege of Pompeii (89 BC) saw a Roman army under Sulla recapture the city, after it fell into the hands of the Italian rebels in the previous year (Social War).

During 90 BC the Samnite leader Gaius Papius Mutilus captured Nola, east of Naples, and then moved south to take Stabiae, Surrentum and Salernum and plunder the area around Nuceria, all in the area to the south of Pompeii, between the Gulf of Naples and the Gulf of Salerno. He then attempted to capture Acerrae, between Naples and Nola. Appian reports at least two Roman attempts to lift the siege, but doesn't actually say how it ended. Appian doesn't mention Pompeii in his account of the war, so we don't know if it was captured by Papius, or joined the revolt of its own free will (at the time Pompeii was an Oscan city).

Appian also fails to mention the Roman recapture of Pompeii in 89 BC, but he does provide an account of the campaign in which it probably happened. Sulla led a Roman army into the hills near Pompeii, presumably to besiege the city. A Samnite relief army under Lucius Cluentius camped nearby, and defeated Sulla's first attack on it. Sulla then gathered together his entire army, defeated Cluentius and pursued him back to Nola. Cluentius and 20,000 of his men were killed outside the town (battle of Nola). Sulla then moved east into the Apennines to besiege Aeclanum, before moving on to attack the Samnites.

We have scattered and indirect references to the siege. Orosius says that in the 'six hundred and sixty-first year of the City, a Roman army went to besiege Pompeii. This would place the siege in 93 BC, but comes in a section of his text that describes the events of 89 BC.

Pliny the Elder tells us that Stabiae fell to Sulla on 29 April 89 BC (giving the date as the day before the calends of May - the calends being the first day of the month.

In Ovid's Fasti (On the Roman Calendar) the death of Titus Didius is placed on 11 June 89 BC, while Velleius Paterculus says that Titus Didius captured Herculaneum (alongside Velleius's own ancestor Minatius Magius), and Minatius Magius then went on to attack Pompeii alongside Sulla. This places the fall of Pompeii some time after 11 June. It also tells us that not all of Rome's Italian allies supported the revolt, even in tribes that were part of it. Minatius Magius was from Aeclanum and had raised a legion from the Hirpini, one of the Samnite tribes listed as having rebelled in 91 BC.

Orosius follows the reference to Pompeii with an account of the death of Postumius Albinus, an ex-consul who was then serving as a legate under Sulla. Albinus made himself so unpopular that he was stoned to death by his soldiers. Sulla decided not to punish his men, and instead said that 'civil bloodshed could be atoned for only by shedding the blood of the enemy'. Plutarch mentions the same incident, and says that Sulla expected to 'find his men more ready and willing for the war on account of this transgression, since they would try to atone for it by their bravery'. In the periochae of Livy we discover that Aulus Postumius Albinus was commander of the navy, and was killed by his army because they suspected him of high treason. Albinus may have been the command of a fleet operating in support of Sulla's army in Campania, but Orosius has his men taking part in the battle of Nola, so he may also have commanded another Roman army operating in Campania, or just part of Sulla's army.

Some archaeological traces that can probably be dated to Sulla's attack have been discovered at Pompeii. These includes marks left by catapult balls in the town walls, and in particular near the Vesuvian gate on the northern side of the town. Catapult balls have also been discovered in the House of the Vestals and the House of the Labyrinth, which are both just inside the town walls. Sulla's name has also been found in graffiti in the city.

After his victory in Sulla's Second Civil War, Sulla placed a colony of his veterans at Pompeii. This changed the nature of the city - the Oscan language disappeared from public inscriptions, and was replaced by Latin, and Sulla's veterans and their descendents dominated the city for the next couple of generations.

The siege of Pompeii probably came between the battle of Nola and the siege of Aeclanum and Sulla's campaign against the Samnites - it would seem unlikely that Sulla would have left the siege incomplete after defeating the relief army.


Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo

Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo (135 – 87 BC) was a Roman general and politician, who served as consul in 89 BC. He is often referred to in English as Pompey Strabo, to distinguish him from his son, the famous Pompey the Great, or from Strabo the geographer.

Strabo's cognomen means "cross eyed". He lived in the Roman Republic and was born and raised into a noble family in Picenum (in the south and the north of the modern regions of Marche and Abruzzo respectively) in Central Italy, on the Adriatic Coast. Strabo's mother was called Lucilia. Lucilia's family originated from Suessa Aurunca (modern Sessa Aurunca) and she was a sister of satiric poet Gaius Lucilius. Lucilius was a friend of Roman general Scipio Aemilianus. Strabo's paternal grandfather was Gnaeus Pompeius, while his father was Sextus Pompeius. His elder brother was Sextus Pompeius and his sister was Pompeia.


Front Facade

Although scholars are somewhat divided about the exact dates, it is likely that the first construction of the House of the Faun as it is today was built about 180 BCE. Some small changes were made over the next 250 years, but the house remained pretty much as it was constructed until August 24, 79 CE, when Vesuvius erupted, and the owners either fled the city or died with other residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The House of the Faun was nearly completely excavated by Italian archaeologist Carlo Bonucci between October 1831 and May 1832, which is in a way too bad—because modern techniques in archaeology could tell us quite a bit more than they could have 175 years ago.


Magnificent 3D Reconstruction of Pompeii Home Sheds Light on Life in the Ancient City Before its Destruction

Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near modern-day Naples in Italy, which was wiped out and buried under 6 meters of ash and pumice following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It is an eerie feeling to walk the empty streets of Pompeii and to view shops and homes left virtually untouched for nearly two millennia. One home still contains a complete loaf of bread sitting in the oven, perfectly preserved by a coating of ash. Now everyone has the opportunity to walk the streets and peer inside homes thanks to a detailed 3D digital reconstruction of an entire Pompeian city-block.

The impressive initiative is part of the Swedish Pompeii Project , which began in 2000 at the Swedish Institute in Rome, and sheds light on the lives of the people who lived and died in the ancient Roman city in the first century AD. It is now overseen by researchers at Sweden's Lund University. The researchers virtually reconstructed an entire block, including a magnificent house that belonged to a banker called Caecilius Iucundus. The home was designed to allow as much light as possible to shine into the rooms, especially in the most elaborate room known as the tabularium (city archive).

The city block that was reconstructed, called Insula VI, includes two large and wealthy estates, in addition to the house of the banker. There is also a bakery, tavern, laundry, and a garden with fountains.

An overhead view of Insula VI, the city block that was reconstructed. Credit: Swedish Pompeii Project

The well preserved mosaic floor pieces and fully intact windows made of translucent gypsum enabled archaeologists to piece together what the home would have looked like nearly 2,000 years ago.

Archeologists also studied the water and sewer systems and discovered important information about the social hierarchies of the town – namely, that retailers were dependent on wealthy families for water, which they held in large tanks or wells, until the construction of a large aqueduct in later days.

The team was led by Anne-Marie Leander Touati, former director of the Swedish Institute in Rome and now Professor of Archaeology and Ancient History at Lund University. 3D scanning of the Pompeii city block took place during fieldwork expeditions between 2011 and 2012 with the use of FARO Focus3D and FARO PHOTON 120 laser scanners.

"By combining new technology with more traditional methods, we can describe Pompeii in greater detail and more accurately than was previously possible,'' said digital archaeologist Nicoló Dell´Unto [via ScienceAlert].

The reconstruction is fully documented in the article “Reconstructing the Original Splendour of the House of Caecilius Iucundus: A Complete Methodology for Virtual Archaeology Aimed at Digital Exhibition”. The part of the city known as Insula V1 was chosen due to its location at the crossing of two of Pompeii's main thoroughfares. The project was carried out using technical and literary texts, paintings, drawings, pictures taken via drone, and scans.

Pompeii still hides many treasures and secrets. Researchers have been excavating it for centuries, but there is still a lot to discover. In September, 2015, Mark Miller from Ancient Origins, reported on a discovery of an unexpected tomb in Pompeii:

''Archaeologists have unearthed an extremely rare 4 th century BC tomb of a woman dating to before the Roman presence in Pompeii, when the Samnites occupied the area. Evidence suggests the Romans knew of the burial site and chose not to build on it, allowing the site to survive undisturbed for more than two millennia. Scholars hope the find will give important insight into the Samnite people, an Italic people who once fought against the Romans.

Inside the tomb, archaeologists found amphorae or earthenware jugs, still with substances in them. The clay jars were found to come from various parts of Italy, showing that the Samnite people had contact outside their own area on the western coast of Italy. Researchers will examine the contents of the jars, but an initial examinations revealed food, wine and cosmetics, providing a fascinating insight into Samnite diet and culture.

A French archaeological team based in Naples discovered the tomb by surprise.

“The burial objects will show us much about the role of women in Samnite society and can provide us with a useful social insight,” Massimo Osanna, the archaeological superintendent of Pompeii said , according to theLocal.it .

After the Samnite Wars in the 4 th century BC, the town became subject to Rome while still retaining administrative and linguistic autonomy. Osanna said little is known about Pompeii before Rome annexed it.

The Samnite inhabitants of early Pompeii took part in the wars against Rome along with other towns of the Campania region in 89 BC. Rome laid siege to the town but did not subdue it until 80 BC.''


New Theory: Alexander the Great Poisoned by Flowering Herb?

On June 11, 323 B.C., the famed Alexander the Great died, felled by a mysterious illness that left him too weak to move.

Ever since, the cause of the Macedonian leader's death has been debated. Did he succumb to the cumulative effect of battle injuries received while conquering everything between Greece and India? Did a parasite or bacterium lay him low? Or was Alexander the Great poisoned?

Now, research finds that if poison killed Alexander the Great, the toxin may well have come from an unassuming plant called white hellebore (Veratrum album) that may have been slipped into his wine.

Death of a king

Alexander was the son of the king of Macedonia, Philip II, and Olympias, one of Philip II's five to seven wives. Upon inheriting the throne, Alexander began an ambitious military campaign that would extend the borders of his empire from modern-day Greece to the Himalayan Mountains. He was planning to invade the Arabian Peninsula when he died. [10 Reasons Alexander the Great Was, Well … Great]

There are no surviving records of Alexander's death written at the time, leaving historians struggling to piece together the end of the king's life from histories written, at minimum, 300 years later. Many of these histories are themselves based on questionable sources, such as propaganda penned after Alexander died. And the king's tomb and body have never been found.

With that in mind, determining the cause of Alexander's death is a thought exercise. Modern scientists have suggested culprits ranging from malaria to a bacterial infection from drinking river water to side effects from old battle wounds.

"We can never settle the question for good without a body," said Leo Schep, a toxicologist at the University of Otago National Poisons Center in New Zealand.

Murder or microbes?

In a new study detailed in the January issue of the journal Toxicology History, Schep and his colleagues speculate that if Alexander was indeed poisoned, a plant may have done him in. [The 10 Most Common Poisonous Plants]

Schep got interested in the 2,000-year-old cold case about a decade ago, when a production company in the United Kingdom approached him with the question for a documentary. After that experience, he stayed interested, he told LiveScience.

He and his colleagues first considered the two divergent accounts of Alexander's death. In one, championed by ancient historian Plutarch and others, Alexander is said to have gradually become feverish after a banquet in Babylon. As he sickened, he lost his ability to walk and died after 11 to 12 days of illness. This account is based on ancient historians' citation of the "Royal Diary," a document allegedly written during Alexander's reign. However, modern historians are skeptical that the Royal Diary was really contemporaneous with Alexander it's likely that the document was written after his death to quash rumors of poisoning in an attempt to keep the king's empire together.

The second narrative is similarly unreliable. This one comes from "The Book on the Death and Last Testament of Alexander," which probably also came about shortly after the king died. However, the original document is lost and survived only in highly fictionalized form as "The Alexander Romance."

That version describes Alexander taking a drink of wine at the banquet and crying out from a pain in his liver. Suspecting he'd had too much to drink, he asks his cup-bearer to bring him a feather he could use to induce vomiting. The cup-bearer, who'd poisoned his wine in the first place, brings him a feather smeared with yet more poison, the story goes. The king suffers for 11 days, becoming very weak, and at one point attempts to crawl to the Euphrates river in order to drown himself.

Taking the tale in "The Alexander Romance" at face value, Schep and his colleagues began to narrow down possible poisons that could have caused the symptoms.

Plant poison

Two common poisons, strychnine and arsenic, were quickly eliminated. Both cause death within hours or a few days, and the symptoms don't match Alexander's reported abdominal pain followed by progressive muscle weakness, the researchers wrote. [The 14 Oddest Medical Case Reports]

Schep and his colleagues considered other famous poisons, such as hemlock, which causes muscle paralysis, convulsions, coma and death. But hemlock acts quickly. Another common ancient poison, henbane, doesn't fit the clues, because symptoms include mania and visual disturbances. Alexander was conscious and lucid during his illness, albeit weak.

After ruling out several other plant poisons that would have been accessible, Schep and his colleagues suggest the most likely toxin was white hellebore, a flowering herb common in Europe. The plant affects the central nervous system, shutting down the molecular channels that nerve cells use to communicate. As a result, the nerves that tell muscles to move can't talk effectively, causing muscle and heart weakness.

Upon ingesting white hellebore, the victim is immediately wracked with abdominal pain so severe it's often mistaken for a heart attack, Schep and his colleagues wrote. Compounds extracted from the plant can be fermented along with alcohol, which means they could have easily been slipped into Alexander's wine. After the pain, the muscular effects begin, slowing the heart muscle and leaving the limbs weak. Victims remain conscious but immobile until right before death.

Alexander was a strong leader, but his era was dangerous for royalty. His own mother, Olympias, may have had his father assassinated she forced another of her husband's wives to commit suicide and may have poisoned his half-brother, too. Those who research the dynasty have to come to terms with mysterious deaths and unidentified corpses: One lavish tomb excavated in Greece in 1977 is the subject of a 33-year-long debate over whether it contains the body of Alexander's father or his poisoned half-uncle.

Even finding Alexander the Great's body would probably not settle the question, Schep said. "An autopsy would yield some information," he said, "but if it was death by poison, that may be a bit difficult to prove, unless of course he was poisoned by a heavy metal." It's not clear how long other types of poison would survive in bone for thousands of years, he said.


3rd Century BCE

265–241: The First Punic War between Rome and Carthage is waged with no decisive winner.

240: Greek mathematician Eratosthenes (276–194) measures the Earth's circumference.

221–206: Qin Shi Huang (259–210) unites China for the first time, beginning the Qin Dynasty construction on the Great Wall begins.

218–201: The Second Punic War begins in Carthage, this time led by the Phoenician leader Hannibal (247–183) and a force supported by elephants he loses to the Romans and later commits suicide.

215–148: The Macedonian Wars lead to Rome's control of Greece.

206: The Han Dynasty rules in China, led by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao), who uses the Silk Road to make trade connections as far as the Mediterranean.


6 Women Rubbed Dead Skin Cells Of Gladiators On Their Faces

The gladiators who lost became medicine for epileptics while the winners became aphrodisiacs. In Roman times, soap was hard to come by, so athletes cleaned themselves by covering their bodies in oil and scraping the dead skin cells off with a tool called a strigil.

Usually, the dead skin cells were just discarded&mdashbut not if you were a gladiator. Their sweat and skin scrapings were put into a bottle and sold to women as an aphrodisiac. Often, this was worked into a facial cream. Women would rub the cream all over their faces, hoping the dead skin cells of a gladiator would make them irresistible to men.


Context

In 63 bce the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem. The Romans ruled through a local client king and largely allowed free religious practice in Judaea. At times, the divide between monotheistic and polytheistic religious views caused clashes between Jews and Gentiles. This friction, combined with oppressive taxation and unwanted imperialism, culminated in 66 ce in the First Jewish Revolt. The revolt was successful at first: Jewish forces quickly expelled the Romans from Jerusalem, and a revolutionary government was formed that extended its influence into the surrounding area. In response, the Roman emperor Nero sent the general Vespasian to meet the Jewish forces, an endeavour that pushed the majority of the rebels into Jerusalem by the time Vespasian was proclaimed emperor in 69 ce .


The Colosseum has extended the end date of its exhibition highlighting the history of the long-standing relationship between Rome and Pompeii, until 27 June.

The exhibition Pompeii 79 AD. A Roman story is hailed as "unprecedented" and is held on the second tier of the Colosseum.

The Pompeii exhibition, which comprises almost 100 pieces, reconstructs the complex dialogue that linked the two most famous sites in Italian archaeology from the Second Samnite War to the eruption of 79 AD.

The display is centred around the reconstruction of social and cultural relations, traceable in particular through archaeological research, and is enriched by videos and virtual projections.

The show is divided into three large sections &ndash the alliance phase, the Roman colony phase, the decline and end of Pompeii.

It also focuses on two crucial moments that shaped the long history of Pompeii: the Roman siege of 89 BC and the earthquake of 62 AD, up until the catastrophic event of 79 AD that brought about the destruction of the Vesuvian city while Rome continued on its path to become a metropolis without precedent.

Promoted by the Parco archeologico del Colosseo, the exhibition was conceived and curated by the late, celebrated archaeologist Mario Torelli.

Entry to the exhibition is included in the Colosseum tickets which must be booked in advance online.


1 Donatives

The Praetorian Guard was a specialized unit of the Roman army that acted as household troops to the emperor and his personal bodyguards. During the first century BC, the Praetorian Guard occasionally got involved in the process of appointing new emperors.

But as time went by, their involvement grew larger until they eventually got into a position where they were able to appoint, remove, and even murder Roman emperors. One incentive for murdering emperors and appointing new ones was a practice known as &ldquothe donative,&rdquo which was an economic reward that the Praetorian Guard received from the newly appointed emperor once the previous one was killed.

This practice was one of the reasons why emperor succession became truly chaotic during the late history of the Western Roman Empire. Once the loyal protectors of the the head of the Roman government, the Praetorian Guard gradually and ironically turned into a corrupt and dangerous army unit that held significant control over the life of the emperors.


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