Tuesday 16 February
10 AM PST
1 PM EST
6 PM GMT
7 PM CET
7 AM NZDT (Wednesday 17 February)
With Dr. Eireann Marshall
The Adriatic Lagoons not only provide us with a wealth of art, above all wonderful mosaics, but also an interesting insight into the transition between the Roman Imperial period and Late Antiquity, when the Roman empire was threatened by marauding tribes, leading to its ultimate demise.
During the height of the Roman Empire, the powerful cities of Aquileia and Ravenna were the centre of trade and the locus of the Adriatic fleet, respectively. Intriguingly, the ports of both cities survive providing a glimpse of their former glory and economic might. The wealth accumulated in Aquileia allowed the city to build the very fine basilica – just after the passage of the Edict of Milan in 313 which legalised Christianity – which preserves the largest extant Paleo-Christian mosaic floor.
With the advent of the economic and political crises which befell the Roman Empire after the 3rd century which resulted in the incursions of tribes coming from Germany and the East, the prosperity was shattered and people fled to the lagoons. The population of Aquileia fled to neighbouring Grado, further into the lagoon. In turn, Ravenna, because of the protection afforded by the lagoon, was made the capital of the Roman Empire in the West, something which resulted in the construction of wonderful churches still visible today, notably the so called Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.
After the Visigothic sacking of Rome in AD 476, the date stereotypically taken as the collapse of the Roman Empire, Ravenna continued to be a capital, both under the Ostrogothic Theodoric the Great and, after the Byzantine re-conquest, under Justinian. The monuments constructed at the time, including the Mausoleum of Theodoric and the Basilica of San Vitale, which are justly included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites, allow us to explore the way the Western Roman empire evolved in the late antique period.
Ravenna and Aquileia: From Port Cities to the arrival of Marauding Hordes
In this lecture we will explore the splendour of these cities in the Roman Imperial and explore what happened to them in the wake of the incursions, when the lagoon became a place of safety. While the population of Aquileia retreated to neighbouring Grado for the protection it afforded them, Ravenna, because of its location on a lagoon, increased in importance, becoming the capital of the Empire in the West.
Under the Theodosian dynasty, Ravenna became a city of splendour, as can be seen in its housing and splendid mosaics. In this virtual journey we will explore the archaeological remains of the cities’ ports, as well as some of the artistic masterpieces of these cities, from the spectacular Mausoleum of Galla Placidia to the Basilica at Aquileia.