Along with the Greeks and Egyptians, the Romans are one of the best-known ancient peoples. An endless source of inspiration for writers and filmmakers, they have even become comic book heroes. In technology, society, war, art, and politics, the Romans were far ahead of their time.
For two thousand years, the Romans ruled vast territories in Europe and beyond. Visitors to the museum's Roman galleries are greeted by a line of commanding statues of emperors. One of the finest is a likeness of the emperor Trajan almost three metres tall, dating from AD 100. Statues like these represented the power, strength, and divinity of Rome, and symbols of these qualities decorate Trajan's uniform.
Villas, sitting rooms, and an owl
One striking exhibit is a three-by-five-metre model of a block of villas in Pompeii, which presents a vivid picture of the everyday lives of wealthy Romans in and around ancient Rome. The villas from the buried city have been reconstructed with incredible precision. This area also includes a replica of a Roman sitting room with a beautiful mosaic floor and figurines of gods on the mantelpiece. Yet another highlight is a sculpture of an owl, probably used as a signboard by a fortune-teller. The Romans believed that owls could help in predicting the future.
Gods and sarcophagi
The Romans worshipped a staggering number of gods. One display case is filled with a great variety of god statuettes, which were often kept on altars in Roman homes. At the columbarium, you can see how the dead were normally laid to rest: in carved ash-chests in the wall niches of a columbarium, sometimes accompanied by their portraits. One funerary altar for a ten-year-old girl is an especially lovely and moving monument. Some rich and powerful Romans had sarcophagi made for them instead. One beautifully decorated sarcophagus on display in the Roman galleries once stood in the studio of the great Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.
Reserve a tour online
You can reserve a tour of the Roman galleries (for up to 25 people) online or by calling +31 (0)71 516 3163.
Arrange a group visit online
You can arrange a group visit to the Roman galleries (for at least ten people, excluding visitors with a Museumkaart) online or by calling +31 (0)71 516 3163.