And no, the Pantheon wasn’t just in Rome, London had one! Not exactly the same, but an interesting and curious story nonetheless. Opened in January 1772 on Oxford Street, the Pantheon was a place built for Londoners to meet that could rival the Leisure Gardens in Vauxhall. His garden had a pond with small fish, flowers and fruit trees.
The main hall was a vast rotunda modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the Pantheon in Rome. As was fashionable in those years, the point of reference was however the ancient world. Considered at the time by many to be the most elegant recent structure in Europe, by recent we mean in 1772.
It was very successful especially among women who at that time could not venture far alone, but being a local they could walk in its gardens undisturbed. But its success did not last long and after a few years it became a theater. Even as a theater it did not have luck on its side, in fact it was almost immediately destroyed by a fire in 1792. It later became a state office, and then a covered market.
For a short time it was the home of the UK’s National Institute for Improvement of Artifacts which despite its pompous name did not have much success. For thirty years in the mid 19th century, it was a bazaar. In 1937 the building was bought by Marks and Spencer who had it demolished and built their main shop which you can still see today.
An important archaeological discovery in Pompeii
After almost 2000 years a tomb of a freedman, Marcus Venerius, whose body rested semi embalmed was discovered this week.
To the east of the ancient city, at the necropolis of Porta Sarno, archaeologists found the intact burial of Marcus Venerius Secundio . A very special tomb, because at the time in the city the bodies were incinerated, while that of Marco Venerio is a tomb and his body is inside, lying in a corner, with the nape covered with white and semi-mummified hair. His body was kept inside a cell which allowed its preservation.
Marco Venerio, was over 60 when he died and was a freedman which means a former slave who had gained his freedom. He had been the guardian of the Temple of Venus, protector of the city of Pompeii, minister of the Augustals and then, after the liberation, Augustale, or member of a college of priests of the imperial cult. What is amazing of all this is the fact that a former slave could make enough money to buy himself a posh tomb. Two cinerary urns were found externally in the tomb enclosure, one belonging to a woman named Novia Amabilis, probably Marco Venerio’s wife. Specialists are also analysing what remains of the funeral tunic, which was made of asbestos, which may have contributed to the preservation of the body. Asbestos was often used for embalming
This new discovery is very important as it contains many details of life at the time while at the same time adding a few unanswered questions.
What is that spire outside Charing Cross station in London?
The cross was destroyed in the year 1647 by the Puritans during the English Civil War. After the construction of Charing Cross station in 1865, a reproduction of Eleanor Cross was created and placed outside the station and not in its original place in Trafalgar Square where the equestrian sculpture dedicated to Carlo.
The reproduction was created by the architect EM Barry himself who built the railway station. He used uncommon images available from the original. at the top, there are eight images of Eleonora, 4 as a queen, with imperial symbols and 4 represented as a Christian. Below are curved angels and shields with royal weapons and those of Ponthieu, Castile and Leon, all copied from still extant Eleanor Crosses who were at Waltham Cross and Northampton.
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