Wednesday, May 6, 2020


Via Enrico De Nicola 74

298/306, the largest baths in ancient Rome
According to the inscription in Room Five of the Museum of the Baths they were built in less than eight years

Begun when Maximian (286/305) was back from Africa (298) and finished after the abdication of Diocletian (284/305) and Maximian (May 1, 305), but before the death of Constantius (25 July 306)

Eusebio said that for the construction were employed 40,000 Christians

Area of about 380 x 370 m (1247 x 1214 feet)
They were fed by the Aqua Marcia acqueduct

The plan is similar to that of the Baths of Trajan:

CALDARIUM not circular but rectangular with three niches

TEPIDARIUM and NATATIO arranged along the minor axis

GYMNASIUMS at the sides of the major axis

APODYTERIUM (near the gymnasiums)


LIBRARIES in which the books of the Basilica Ulpia were transported to 200 years old and apparently abandoned

The bricks with stamps all date back to the period of Diocletian

The complex could have been used by more than 3,000 people, double the Baths of Caracalla
It remained in operation until the time of the war between the Goths and Byzantines (535/553)
The name remains in the name Termini (Thermae) given to the nearby Termini Train Station

“The eight largest public bathing establishments (among the eleven known) covered all together an area of about 47 hectares (116 acres). There was also an extraordinary number of private ‘balnea’, scattered in all districts of the city: 856 were recorded in the fourth century AD” (Filippo Coarelli)


Museum of the Baths

Branch of the MUSEO NAZIONALE ROMANO (National Roman Museum) which is made out of five different museums in five different locations. The other four are Palazzo Massimo, Crypta Balbi, Palazzo Altemps and Museo del Palatino

The Baths of Diocletian housed the first branch ever of the National Roman Museum which opened in 1890

The museum was completed in the thirties and renovated in the nineties of the 1900s
The rooms of the Baths from the first to the eleventh are being restored

Garden of the Sixteenth Century

Statues, steles, sarcophagi and funerary altars

At the center fountain with “Colossal cantharus in marble” 2 m (6.6 feet) high decorated with Cupids

Entrance Hall

Frescoes found after restoration “Woman with two children” beginning of the eighteenth century, maybe by Giovanni Odazzi (1663/1731)

“Sarcophagus with Dionysian procession”

“Statue of man with toga” second century AD with head not pertinent

“Funerary altar of the scribe of the curule aedile Quintus Fulvius Priscus and his brother”


One of the most important collections in the world with nearly 10,000 ancient inscriptions, which corresponds to about 10% of all epigraphic inscriptions found in Rome

Exhibit with evolution from the most rare inscriptions of the Archaic period to the thousands of imperial age

Room One

“Fragment of the Forma Urbis” representing the Temple of the Castors

Room Two

Copy (the original is in the proto-historic museum) of “Vase with the oldest Greek inscription found in Italy” ninth century BC from Osteria dell'Osa

Copy of the “Lapis Niger”

“Lapis Satricanum” from the Temple of Mater Matuta in Satrico, where he this base offered to Publicola, first Roman consul in 509 BC, was re-used

“Helmet, armor and weapons” of warrior from Lanuvium about 470 BC

“Bronze foil” with a dedication to Castor and Pollux, second half of the sixth century BC, from the thirteen altars in the sanctuary of Lavinium

Room Three

Materials and inscriptions of the fourth and third century BC from Rome and Lazio region

“Small base votive offering to Aesculapius” found in the Tiber River

“Crown of limestone dedicated to Fortuna Primigenia” from Palestrina

“Truncated pyramid of peperino stone dedicated to Aeneas” from Lavinium

“Marble base used as a fountain with metal letters” from the Temple of Hercules in Borgo S. Giovanni near Lanuvio

“Votive complex” with three terracotta statues seated and two standing of the fourth and third century BC from the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Ariccia

Room Four

Inscriptions dating back to the period of the late republic

“Base of Lucius Mummius consul in 146 BC” from Fregellae

Two “Small bowls” 63 BC with electioneering for Catiline and Marcus Porcius Cato

“Plaque” dedicated to the baker Eurisace and his wife

“Laudatio Turiae” praise inscribed on marble for a courageous wife during the civil wars

Room Five

Imperial Age. The figure of the emperor

“Dedicatory inscription of the Baths of Diocletian”

“Base with bronze plate” for the statue of Tiberius (14/37) dedicated by the Aenatores (musicians)

“Base in marble for series of statues of members of the Julio-Claudian family” also dedicated by the Aenatores

Upstairs there are epigraphs of the second and third century AD including: “Base for Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus (193/211) as mater castrorum

Room Six

Strata of Roman society

“Inscription commemorating the historian Tacitus”

“Sarcophagus of the eques Aurelius Julianus for his son Marcus Aurelius Romanus with scene of Ulysses and the sirens” third century AD

“Sarcophagus of the eques Julius Achilleus with pastoral scenes” about 270

Lead pipes with marks

Oil lamps

Cast (original is in the garden) of the “Huge inscription for the funerary monument of Epaphroditus, freedman of Nero (54/68)”

Room Seven

Administration of the empire

Bronze “Tabula Alimentaria” of the Baebiani from the Liguria region, 101 AD. They were deported en masse in the Irpinia region in Southern italy

“Inscription for the career of Lucius Lucilius Julianus praetorian prefect”

“Wall with graffiti” from the barracks of the fire brigade

Room Eight

Roman Businesses

“Funerary altar of Aurelia Nais, fish seller “

“Eulogy of the freed Allia Potestas” from Via Pinciana

“Memorials of gladiators”

“Funerary stele of Licinia Amias” with fish, Christological acrostic IΧΘΥΣ formed from the initials of the phrase Ἰησοὺς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ which means Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior in Greek

“Altar of Marcus Antonius Terentius, cattle dealer”

“Altar of a mime from the Sanctuary of Hercules Victor at Tivoli” 199 AD

“Iron collar for slave”

“Sarcophagus of the shoemaker Tits Flavius Trophimas”

Room Nine

Religions in Rome

Inscriptions for the worship of ancestors, Penati, Lari and Mani

Christian and Jewish inscriptions

Statutes (leges) that regulated worship in associations of faithful as the “Lex familiae Silvani” or the “Lex colleges salutaris Dianae et Antinoi”

“Inscriptions for the worship of Anna Perenna” with witchcraft curses found in 2000 near the fountain and sacred source of Anna Perenna in Piazza Euclide

Cult of Mithras with “Statuette of Petrogenitus Mithras” (born from a rock) and polychrome relief with “Mithras tauroctonous” (bull killer)

“Idol of the Janiculum Hill” maybe Egyptian Osiris or Syrian Adonis mid-fourth century AD from the Syrian Sanctuary

Educational Room

Production process of epigraphs and examples of false pieces

Room Ten

Large tombs of the Platorinis and of the Via Portuense

Finally opened to the public in 2009 with 57 years of delay since the, at the time, planned opening. During all this long time the room was always deemed unusable

Probably the hall was originally one of the two entrances to the complex


Discovered in 1880 on Via Lungara and rebuilt in 1911

The burial chamber is preceded by the statues of “Sulpicius Platorinus” and of his daughter “Sulpicia”, of the first century AD

Inside were relocated urns, richly decorated with reliefs of ox skulls and garlands of fruit


Carved into the tufa stone discovered in 1951 on Via Quirino Majorana

They were part of a necropolis that developed along the Via Portuense between the end of the first and third century AD:

“First tomb”

There are niches on the walls and vaulted ceiling, decorated in white stucco with floral motifs and mythological figures, including the Dioscuri, Eros riding and Seasons

Allegorical representations allusive to the immortality of the soul and the journey that the soul will have to make to reach the place of the blessed

“Second tomb”

Arched niches. It is painted inside with images that now, thanks to a careful restoration, are presented in all their polychrome glory

On the left side “Two peacocks with a crater”, on the right side “Figures playing ball and other conversing, while a giant baby moves around with a tripod”

Also in the room there are:

“Sarcophagus with Dionysus and Ariadne” from the Via Labicana

“Two sinks” not funerary, one in yellow marble from Tunisia and the other in granite

“Statues” placed in the niches of the thermal baths’ walls


Pleistocene (geological period from 2,000,000 to 10,000 BC)

Ages in relation to man:

Paleolithic divided into three phases: the lower, early Stone Age (2,500,000/120,000), medium (120,000/36,000), higher (36,000/10,000)

Mesolithic: bows and arrows, villages (10,000/7500)

Neolithic: introduction agriculture, use of clay and ceramics (7,500/5,700)

Eneolithic (or Chalcolithic): Copper Age (5,700/2,300), Bronze Age (2,300/1,100), Iron Age (1100/800 late prehistory - early history)

Materials of the various phases of the CULTURE OF THE LAZIO REGION especially from the following sites:

Osteria dell'Osa near Gabii (“Pot” with the oldest Greek inscription found in Italy, ninth century BC)

La Rustica


Fidenae (hut)


Traditionally attributed to Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564) who worked for the church of St. Mary of the Angels in 1561, but maybe only suggested the design that was initiated by his pupil Jacopo Del Duca (about 1520/1604) in 1565 and ended only in the early seventeenth century

Second floor finished in 1676 and fountain dating back to 1695

Restored in 2000

A corner “Door painted in trompe l'oeil with Carthusian friar Fercoldo father of Pope Clement IV (1265/68)” in 1855 by Filippo Balbi (1806/90)

First Wing


Two “Headless statues sitting down” of the Julio-Claudian period from Torpignattara

“Headless statue with armour” from Via Prenestina

“Headless statue of man in heroic semi-nudity” from S. Giovanni Incarico

“Woman standing headless” maybe priestess of Ceres of the second century AD

Various funerary altars including “Titus Aspulenus Carellianus” dead only five years old and “Sarcophagus of child with Centauromachy and Gigantomachy”

Three “Sileni squatting” maybe used as telamons

Second Wing


“Sarcophagus with the discovery of the sleeping Ariadne” from Sts. Nereus and Achilleus

“Sarcophagus with two winged genies supporting the clypeus with underneath Ocean and Tellus and at the sides the centaur Chiron training Hercules” from Via Casilina

Stretch of an ancient road

“Sarcophagus with the myth of Medea” from Palazzo Caucci

Small sarcophagi for children

Two “Coffins of the kline type” of the first century AD

Third Wing

Funerary altars and reliefs with portraits of deceased

“Aphrodite draped”

“Child asleep with lantern”

Two “Statues of women in the archaic style”

“Funerary relief with centaur who kidnaps a nymph” from Via Prenestina

Fourth Wing

Religious idols

“Drunken Dionysus”

“Dionysus with a panther”

“Headless satyr carrying a flask of wine”




Two “Altars for Diana”

Two statues of “Boys sitting”

Statue of “Headless athlete” from Via Ostiense inspired from the original by Polykleitos of Argos (about 490/about 425 BC)


Room with eight sides located in the southwest corner of the Baths of Diocletian

It is also known as Sala della Minerva (Hall of Minerva) and it is believed to be a minor frigidarium for ablutions

In 1609 it was included in the group of barns of the city of Rome that were transformed in the Pius Institute of General Charity in the nineteenth century
In 1878 was used as a headquarters of the Normal School of Gymnastics and later became the Minerva Movie Theater
In 1928 it was adapted to Planetarium by Italo Gismondi

Now it is part of the National Roman Museum

According to Filippo Coarelli it was built on the TEMPLUM GENTIS FLAVIAE from which would originally come the Agonal Obelisk now in Piazza Navona

Built in about 94 by Domitian (81/96) on the place where he was born for the worship of his gens (extended family)
He maybe moved here from the Mausoleum of Augustus the ashes of his father Vespasian and of his brother Titus

He was buried here himself (Suetonius says that, after his assassination, it was his nurse Phyllis to secretely bring the ashes in the temple and to mix them with those of Giulia) together with Julia, daughter of Titus and his mistress, the two Flavia Domitillas, wife and daughter of Vespasian and Flavio Sabino brother of Vespasian who had died in the year 69 during ths skirmishes against the supporter of Vitellius

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