Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Green, red, blue or white?


This stunning Roman oillamp shows a racing chariot with two horses, or a biga. It is beautiful, primarily due to its almost childish simplicity. In my opinion it is one of the best objects of the Römisch Germanisches Museum in Köln.
At the end of the first century AD, Rome had four racing stables. Each with a substantial amount of supporters, called factiones. These factiones were called 'the Green' (factio prasina), 'the Blue' (factio veneta), 'the Red'(factio russata) and 'the White' (factio albata). These four racing stables were of sociatal importance and had political significance. Even the Emporer had its favourite stable.

This oillamp, found in Köln shows the popularity of chariot racing in the Roman world, while in Germania, only Trier had a hippodrome of signifant size: 440 by 86 meters.

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