Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ancient Roman Cremation and Burial Traditions- Post 2

Perhaps one of the most intriguing themes that I noticed while I was in Rome was the precision with which the ancient Romans engraved their buildings and memorials. They were true keepers of history, which is evidenced by the ruins that remain to tell their story.

During our stay in Rome we ran accross some ancient ruins near what is called the Jewish Ghetto. We had originally visited the Jewish Ghetto to learn more about what Jewish life in Rome was like spanning from the 16th century through World War II. But what we found along our way was absolutely stunning.

While walking toward the Jewish Ghetto we ran accross these ancient ruins on the Via del Portico d'Ottavia. The ruins were stunning not only because of their age but because of their stone work as well.

A view of the street surrounded by ruins
These beautiful columns (above and below) were constructed entirely of marble during the reign of Augustus. It amazes me to think of the effort the ancient Romans went to to import the granite (the marble quarries at Carrera had not yet been discovered) and then to beautifully engrave them.

While this photo was taken as close to the columns as I could get, if you look closely you will notice they are fluted, or have "engraved lines" going down them.
The first thing that amazes me is the manpower that was required to import their marble from Egypt, Asia Minor or Greece. When it was quarried the marble would come in large blocks that would then be transported thousands of miles with the assistance of a pulley system and LOTS of manpower. They say over 6,000 slaves built the Colosseum (also made of marble, concrete, brick and travertine), so one may assume that they used slaves in the importation process as well.

Once they received the blocks in Rome they would have to begin cutting and shaping it to the desired shape and size and then begin doing the artwork. Of course now-a-days we utilize computer aided design (CAD) programs, plotters, stencil, automatic sandblasters, blow torches, and other wonderful tools to assist us in making a memorial beautiful. However, the ancient Romans were not privy to such tools. Instead they had a chisel, a hammer, amazing talent and a steady hand. If you look to the top of the colums you will notice intricate detailing and I am certain we would see some inscriptions on the cap. I was unable to find much about this structure online or elsewhere, but am still amazed by the craftsmanship they were capable of achieving during this time period.

An example of ancient Roman inscriptions- all hand cut
 The picture above is some inscription that I literally found on a rock on the side of this ancient road. These handcut letters are absolutely stunning! Of course we can still make hand cut letters that are equally beautiful today by utilizing some of the exact same time-honored techniques, and still do on many occasions.

The techniques the ancient Romans utilized were extremely time consuming and they realized the beauty and importance of their talents despite the burdens of time and precision. These same techniques were utilized not only for the public and civic buildings and memorials that adorn the city, but for private memorials and cemetery memorials as well.

At Emerson Monument Co. we strive to be experts in all areas of our field, including the history of our trade, to help us maintain a combination of creativity and skills that are second to none. If you would like to start designing a memorial for yourself or a loved one, please visit our website or drop by the store to visit.

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