Classical history geek that I am, I went this afternoon to the “24 Hour Roman Construction Project,” an art event in which participants build a replica of Rome in a day. Starting at midnight with the two huts of Romulus and Remus, volunteers make structures, well, more or less to scale.
Events, speakers and music were planned all day – wrestlers stage a match to mark the fall of the Republic and rise of the Empire; a fiddler plays during Nero’s reign. At the end, they stomp the whole thing to bits like the Visigoths.
Artist Liz Glynn handed volunteers laminated cards with a structure on them, and then you used your ingenuity and a pile of scrap cardboard and lumber to make the buildings.
I was there for about an hour around 2:30 p.m., during the late Roman Republic, my favorite period, and got to work on the rostra, the Forum’s platform for speakers.
Fran Gale, an architectural conservator and masonry expert, gave us Vitruvius’ advice on choosing sand to mix mortar: If you throw it against a white garment and it doesn’t stick, it’s good!
Though in the event I opted not to use them, I brought some notecards with Roman graffiti to scribble on the walls: some real (HELENE AMATUR A RUFO – Rufus loves Helen; LADICULA FUR EST – Ladiculus is a thief; ARPHOCRAS HIC CUM DRAUCA BENE FUTUIT DENARIO – Arphocras did it with Drauca here for a denarius) and some not (SONA SI LATINE LOQUERIS – Honk if you speak Latin).
I mentioned I was a geek, right?
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