Ancient Rome explores an epic era in world history. From the triumphant victory of Julius Caesar over the Gauls at the siege of Alesia in 52 BC, to the sparking of the transformation of Rome from a Republic, to the mighty Roman Empire. Besides the military ingenuity, the Roman Imperial period was an era of massive construction and large scale technical innovation that brought unprecedented well being to the far corners of the Empire. Material inventions such as the book, windows, cement, ship building and improvements to large machinery (such as cranes for lifting, energy wheels milling) continued to provide benefit well past the fatal date of 476AD, when the Roman Empire officially ended.
Learn the secrets of the Colosseum, see mighty Roman catapults and battering rams, become a Roman Legionnaire and come face to face with fearsome Gladiators
A message from our director
"In each exhibition we strive to achieve a high level of engagement and interactivity with the public, as educators and historians it is crucial to encourage people to become engaged with History. We strongly believe that the best way to do that is to encourage visitors to participate by using hands-on and interactive exhibits and participate in group activities, with Ancient Rome we have definitely achieved these goals".- Thomas Rizzo, Exhibition Director.
Interactive displays include
Construct your own ancient Roman style mosaic, challenge your friends and family to Ancient Roman board games, experience the feeling of being a Roman legionnaire in the invincible "Testudo" (Turtleshell) military formation, come face to face with fearsome Gladiators, learn to tell the time on real sundials and water clocks, use ancient maps and scrolls to plot your journey through the known world from Brittania (Britain) to India and get a team together to construct a Roman arch a key element in the building of the Empire.
This public family-friendly display is informative and thought-provoking with an emphasis on enjoyment and interaction and offers a stimulating, entertaining and educational experience for all ages.
Our story begins in 52BC with the drama of one of the greatest battles of all times – Julius Caesar's Siege of Alesia – see the mighty war machines and learn the secrets that that made the Roman army 'unbeatable'
The Exhibition covers four major themes:
- Military Genius
- Logistics and Measurement
- Civil technology
- Culture and the arts
- The Colosseum and Gladiators
THE SCORPION BALLISTA (Military Genius)
A ballista is a two-armed torsion catapult capable of firing bolts or stones with considerable force and accuracy. These were built in various sizes and most often used in sieges. The Scorpion (Scorpione) was a light bolt-shooting ballista, more accurate than the larger ballistae they were used for targeting individual enemy troops or war machines and only required two crew members to operate them. Well known for their power and precision scorpions were feared by the enemies of the Roman Empire and were able to penetrate shields, armour and defensive palisades with ease. Scorpions were the forerunners of the crossbow and were most likely inspired by the small portable dart throwing ballistae (Gastraphetes) invented by the Greeks in 50BC.
Scorpions commonly shot one of two sizes of bolts. 70 cm long bolts and could travel 100 metres with accuracy and up to 400 meters when fired in an arc. Scorpions shooting 130 cm long bolts had a maximum distance of 650 meters but were less accurate.
Did you know?
During the days of the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire each legion had 60 Scorpions which could fire up to 240 bolts per minute!
ROMAN TESTUDO (Military Genius) INTERACTIVE DISPLAY
Roman legionaries practiced many military maneuvers and formations; one of the most successful was known as the Testudo or Tortoise formation. The Roman Testudo required extreme discipline and countless drills to perfect. The Testudo was created when a group of legionnaires formed a protective wall and roof by interlocking their large rectangular shields in order to protect the men within from arrows and projectiles, much as a tortoise's shell protects the animal within. This gave the Roman legions the advantage of advancing towards enemy lines whilst being fully protected.
The Testudo could be deployed for both offensive and defensive strategies and has become the symbol of Roman tactical organisation. The commanding centurions could order their highly drilled legionnaires to change from the Testudo to other more offensive formations with great speed, the flexibility and co-ordination of the Roman military strategies could turn the tide of battles against great odds.
Did you know?
The Testudo exhibit is one of the many interactive exhibits at the Ancient Rome Exhibition, you can experience the feeling of being in a Roman testudo formation for yourself.