When did Roman history end?
That question remains in a constant state of flux as the cultural legacy of the Roman Empire continues to be lost.
It is estimated that over the course of the centuries from the 5th century BC, the Roman empire was the largest and most powerful empire in the world, and its people had a far reaching impact on other cultures.
With the death of the great emperors Augustus and Domitian, the reign of Tiberius, and the final triumph of Constantine, the empire’s power was diminished.
Now, we can put the question to ourselves: what happened to the men of the first century AD?
And if the answer is “nothing”, then why did they all disappear?
For more than a century, archaeologists have been studying the remains of ancient Rome.
However, it was only in the early 20th century that archaeologists discovered what is now known as the “lost city” of Pompeii.
In an unprecedented find, researchers unearthed an incredible hoard of Roman military gear, dating from between the 3rd and the 2nd centuries BC.
The archaeological discovery was made at the site of Pompeia, a city that was a crucial staging area for the Roman invasion of Britain in the first part of the 2d century BC.
In the first years of the 3d century, the Romans had already been in the area, and as they approached the site, the remains were discovered in what is known as a “bust.”
This is when the Roman soldiers were taken into custody.
The site of the bust was then excavated for two decades, and over the years, it has become known as “the Pompeii of Britain.”
The discovery of the Pompeii site in the mid-1960s was a significant turning point in the research into the life of ancient Romans, as well as the development of modern forensic archaeology.
For a time, the discovery of this site meant that archaeologists were able to study the lives of people who had lived there for decades.
“When the bust is excavated, it opens up a whole new window of study into the lives and the activities of these men,” says Professor Daniel Gros, a specialist in the study of Roman culture from the University of Bristol.
This is not the only example of the “busting” that archaeologists have uncovered in Pompeii, however.
A second bust site in Pompeia was also uncovered in 2010, and researchers have since discovered another bust site near the city, and more are expected to be found in the future.
In all of these discoveries, the researchers have unearthed a wealth of artefacts, from weapons and armour to pottery and other Roman artifacts.
However the archaeological finds that were unearthed at Pompeii have always been of limited value to the archaeological community.
“The artefacts that were recovered at Pompeia were often not as valuable as those that were in the bust sites, because there was a lack of access to the artefacts,” says Gros.
For the first time, Gros has found the remains in their original condition.
“We are now finding new artefacts in Pompeium that are not only much more valuable, but in the best condition that we have ever seen,” he says.
“This is a really exciting time for archaeology, because we have found a lot of really good finds, but also some really amazing finds that will have implications for understanding the history of the Romans.”
For centuries, the ruins of Pompei have been a major tourist attraction in Italy, and now researchers have found the ruins to be a crucial source of information about the early Roman empire.
“One of the biggest things that we’ve found is a collection of fragments that are the remains that were taken from the bust site, but the rest of the items are very old and so there are a lot that are missing,” says Peter Gros from the National Museum of Rome.
“And that’s what is really interesting to me.
We know that the men were in prison, but we don’t know what their sentences were.”
For the next decade, Gens is using his archaeological expertise to determine the precise dates of these archaeological finds.
“Our goal is to try and determine the exact time of the men’s imprisonment, because the men may have been sent to a place where they didn’t know where to go,” he explains.
Gros is not alone in his research into Pompeii: the remains are also being collected by other researchers. “
It is a real pleasure to be working on this because we’ve only been able to find fragments of the male remains, and even then it is very difficult to reconstruct the body.”
Gros is not alone in his research into Pompeii: the remains are also being collected by other researchers.
“There are lots of other researchers out there who are interested in the life and the history and the culture of the people who lived in Pompei, and they are doing their own work,” says Simon Wood, a PhD candidate at Oxford University and lead researcher on the project.