Sept. 17th: Servian Walls, Museo Nazionale (Terme Museum), Palazzo Massimo

Today was the first of many museum visits during the FSP. After a tipsy turvy bus ride to Termini train station (many students have already expressed distaste for the Roman bus system), we began the day with an oral presentation on the Servian Walls by the lovely Kathleen Wahl. The group learned about the early Roman wall circuit before continuing our way across the street to the Museo Nazionale Romano, otherwise known as the Terme Museum.

Among other things, the Terme Museum features a great collection of Iron Age burial finds. While exploring the galleries, the students were presented with their first paper assignment: an analysis of a Villanovan funerary urn. As part of their assignment, Professor Ulrich asked the students to provide a description of their urn and then think about what type of information the object and its assemblage of grave goods could reveal about both the individual buried in the vessel and Villanovan society. The students spent some time taking pictures and writing notes on their object before reconvening as a group. Before departing the museum, we stopped briefly to take a look at some remains of the Baths of Diocletian, which now function as a exhibit space in the museum.

To satisfy the hungry students, we took a lunch break before regrouping at Palazzo Massimo, another branch of the Museo Nazionale. Although lacking in Iron Age materials, the collections in Pallazzo Massimo contain some of the best “textbook examples” of sculpture, bronzes, and wall paintings in Roman and Greek art. Students marveled at the statue of Augustus as Pontifex Maximus and could not resist the temptation to get a closer look at the Greek bronze called the Boxer (although they quickly jumped back whenever the little motion detector alarm went off). After admiring the paintings from Livia’s Villa and trying to decifer the imagery on the Portonaccio sarcophagus, the group was released for the day. Later in the evening, after p urchasing cell phones and taking their afternoon naps, the students went out for dinner as a group in honor of Aaron’s (non)birthday celebrations.

Till next time,



Kathleen presents on the Servian wall circuit.
The students take notes during their introductory lecture at the Museo Nazionale Romano.
Look at that Villanovan burial!
Brett tries to choose a urn for his paper (quite a challenge in this museum).
Bridget-Kate, Elizabeth, and Kathleen observe the objects in their burials.
The group relaxes in the courtyard of the museum.
The collections of Palazzo Massimo leave everyone in awe.
Jiyoung takes some notes while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of Livia’s Villa.
The Portonaccio sarcophagus. Yes, it’s definitely just as visually overwhelming in person.

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