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Part IX: Cities of the Dead

In this video, Dr Matthew Nicholls explains how the deceased were remembered by tombs and funerary inscriptions in ancient Rome.

Being remembered by the living was fundamentally important to the dead, and tombs were an important commemorative gesture for both the rich and the everyday people of ancient Rome.

Rome is home to huge mausoleums built by emperors such as Augustus, keen to cement their dynasty and legacy in the landscape of the city. But on a smaller scale, as you approach the city you pass miles and miles of tombs of ordinary Romans.

I discuss these tombs in more detail with Professor Peter Kruschwitz, who adds a note of caution about interpreting what inscriptions can tell us about the past. We’ll explore some of these inscriptions in closer detail in the next Step.

As you watch the video, you may like to think about the following:

  • Why do you think the tomb for Augustus was built before he died?

  • What would have travellers to Rome have thought as they passed miles upon miles of tombs on the roads leading into the city?

Share your thoughts in the discussion area below.

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Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

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