Open Educational Resources

Ornaments from Caligula's ships

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    • Wolf heads from Lake Nemi

      Wolve heads from Lake Nemi

    • Wolf head from Lake Nemi

      Wolf head from Lake Nemi

    • Lion head from Lake Nemi

      Lion head from Lake Nemi

PhotosS.P. Kershaw Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome. Mussolini’s draining of Lake Nemi in the late 1920s revealed the remains of two 70m long vessels, probably ceremonial ships in the cult of Isis. A lead pipe stamped Property of Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, plus tiles bearing their dates of manufacture, provide the evidence for identification. The vessels were wooden, clad in lead, studded with bronze heads of wolves and lions like the ones illustrated here, and adorned with marble, mosaics, porphyry and precious metals. Piston pumps supplied the ships with hot and cold running water. The ships were destroyed in World War II on the night of 31 May 1944, either deliberately by the defeated Nazis or as collateral damage by the pursuing U.S. Fifth Army.

Date created: 
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Attribution for this resource:
Ornaments from Caligula's ships, © Steve Kershaw, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA.