Places not on Google Maps – Rome – Part 3


The Quarantine Hill

The so-called “Ninth Hill of Rome” is outside the city walls and was where soldiers, returning from campaigns overseas with unidentifiable diseases, were sent for a period of 40 days before they were allowed back into the city of Rome. All wild animals brought back from other countries were brought here and placed in a menagerie, which could be described as the world’s first zoo. Some of the animals were sent to the Colisseum and others were sold to wealthy patrician families, who would use these animals as an overt sign of their wealth.

The Ara Pacis Caesarae

This peace altar of the Caesars was located in the Senate and was the first place victorious commanders would come back to when they returned from foreign campaigns. The altar was covered up when Rome was at war, so that awkward questions about having a peace altar open during a time of war could be avoided. The altar was decorated with scenes from battles fought abroad. The heads of conquered foes were sometimes hung over the altar by zealous generals as a warning to senators who objected to funds being given to the army for military expeditions in parts of the world not yet controlled by the Romans.

The Hero of Alexandria Museum   

This Museum is found next to the Pyramid of Cestius near the Porta San Paolo and the Protestant Cemetery. Hero lived in Alexandria in the 1st Century AD when Egypt was part of the Roman Empire. Hero described the construction of the aeolipile (a version of which is known as Hero’s engine) which was a rocket-like reaction engine and the first-recorded steam engine. Another engine invented by Hero used air from a closed chamber heated by an altar fire to displace water from a sealed vessel; the water was collected and its weight, pulling on a rope, opened temple doors.

The Museum contains the following reconstructions of Hero’s machines:

  • The first vending machine – when the coin was deposited, it fell upon a pan attached to a lever. The lever opened up a valve which let some water flow out. The pan continued to tilt with the weight of the coin until it fell off, at which point a counter-weight would snap the lever back up and turn off the valve.
  • A windwheel operating an organ, marking the first instance of wind powering a machine in history.
  • An entirely mechanical play almost ten minutes in length, powered by a binary-like system of ropes, knots, and simple machines operated by a rotating cylindrical cogwheel.
  • The force pump was widely used in the Roman world. One application was in a fire-engine. Visitors can put out a fire using Hero’s pump.
  • A syringe-like device to control the delivery of air or liquid.
  • A standalone fountain that operates under self-contained hydrostatic energy. (Heron’s fountain)
  • A programmable cart that was powered by a falling weight. The “program” consisted of strings wrapped around the drive axle.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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