Browse Exhibits (2 total)
This exhibit explores how the art and text found on the walls of Roman taverns, especially those known as cauponae, convey the attitudes and behaviors of their patrons. Cauponae served as both taverns and inns, offering hot meals and wine as well as beds for the night. They were frequented by slaves, seamen and others of low social status, whose earthy and often vulgar sense of humor is conveyed in the graffiti they left behind. Common pastimes of these tavern-goers, such as eating, gambling, and lovemaking, also come to life on the walls of the cauponae.
The primary focus of this exhibit is the city of Pompeii, which was famously buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. As a result, the cauponae of Pompeii are particularly well-preserved, and their walls supply a wealth of evidence for how the common people lived in the early Roman Empire.
This exhibit explores spices of the Roman Empire: their origins, whether imported from exotic places, or the seasonings they would have had available in their own gardens, and the evidence for the use of these in their cooking. We drew from ancient sources as much as possible, especially Pliny’s Natural History and the ancient recipes and critiques of Apicius, as authorities on how spices traveled from place to place, their various properties, and how people in ancient Rome would have used them in cooking. We also wanted to incorporate information compiled by the Getty Museum for their experimental recreation of a Roman herb garden, and selected a few common herbs the Romans grew themselves that are still widely used in cooking today.