Check out the National Roman Museum tour in the surviving structures of the monumental complex of the Baths of Diocletian!
The tour of the National Roman Museum begins to the Baths of Diocletian, wonderful and suggestive thermal complex built between 298-306 AD, the largest spa of the Roman Era, extended for about 13 hectares and able to accomodate about 3000 people.
We will start the tour with the central area of the baths (the calidarium, tepidarium and frigidarium and the natatio), transformed by Michelangelo in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, between 1561 and 1566.
In 1889, the entire archeological complex has been transformed in an archeological museum, which hosts the Epigraphic Museum, the Protohistoric Museum and the Virtual Museum of Ancient Via Flaminia.
We will start the tour of the National Roman Museum in the Giardino dei Cinquecento, which houses funerary artifacts, altars, stele and inscribed tombstones, made of marble and travertine. We will proceed to the Museo Epigrafico and the educational section, dedicated to the mediums and techniques used for inscribing in antiquity, alphabetic systems, both Greek and Latin, following the evolution taking place from antiquity until the 5th century AD. Ascending to the upper balcony, the itinerary continues with the studying of the plethora of epigraphic inscriptions, identifying the different professional bodies and trades that existed in ancient Rome, recounting of gladiatorial victories, and the touching words used to express the loss of the families.
We will continue the tour of the National Roman Museum with a section of a religious nature, the Jewish culture in Rome, and the symbols initially used by the early Christians. One of the most interesting sections of the visit will be the one dedicated to the practice of magic in ancient Rome, thanks to the exposure of artifacts at the Fonte di Anna Perenna. Finally, the guided tour will lead us to examine a number of artifacts related to Mithraism and other popular cults in the Rome of the late Empire.
Moving on, the tour will continue to the Protohistoric Museum, which contains artifacts of the culture of ancient Latium between XI and VII century BC, obtained from some prehistoric necropolises around Rome and from the Forum. Going down the staircase, we will emerge in the Chiostro of Michelangelo, with its 100 meter long sides, where hundreds of marble works of the Imperial era are displayed.
Coming back, we will visit the small Chiostro (cloister in english), recently re-opened to the public, with a new section being prepared for the inauguration for the bimillenium of the death of Augustus Caesar in 2014, together with the monumental façade of the natatio and the large adjacent chambers. We will be able to observe its spectacular 3D reconstruction in a movie which is screened in a room that also houses the model of the entire spa complex. Iside the gigantic chamber nearby, we will come across the reconstruction of the Sepolchro c. d. dei Platorini, discovered in 1880 near the Ponte Sisto during the construction of the embankments of the Lungotevere, dismantled and then rebuilt here.
Among the large mosaics which will finally attract our attention is one that depicts a skeleton lying on its side with a finger pointing to the Greek inscription “know thyself”.