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History lovers step back in time to celebrate ancient Rome

posted 17 Apr 2011, 11:25 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 17 Apr 2011, 11:32 ]

Roman cobbled streets once again echo to the sound of gladiatorial boots as hundreds of Roman centurions march past the Colosseum in an annual parade.

The Italian capital took a step back in time on Sunday (April 17) as hundreds of history enthusiasts from across Europe on Sunday gathered among the famed ruins of the eternal city to celebrate the founding of ancient Rome.

Dressed in Roman military uniforms, gladiator attire and togas, the participants paraded along age-old cobbled streets past the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

The participants marched in formations modelled after the structures of Roman legions, carrying ensigns and weaponry.

The annual parade, with participants from countries including Germany, Poland and Belgium is organised on the Sunday closest to April 21.

As a famous legend has it, Rome was founded by twin brothers Romulus and Remus on April 21, 753 BC.

Many of the participants are keen students of ancient Roman culture and hope to spread interest by offering concrete examples of the daily life in the ancient city.

"It's important because we believe that museum experiences can be enhanced with real contact, with concrete involvement, with a virtual experience, which is not a technological one but a physical realisation of events and practises of ancient Rome, to fuel passion and create an interest in these elements that are being visualised," said Alessandro Catania, who also goes by his Latin name Lucius Scribonius Celsus.

Belgian archaeologist Bernard Van Daele said his group had diligently followed history books when preparing the ancient outfits, ordering some items from the Internet.

Van Daelen, who was attending the parade for the third time, said he hoped all of the participants would stick to facts.

"For us the important is that the things we show are correct because, I don't want to criticise some of the groups here but some of them are really like carnival. We try to re-enact correct experimental archaeology and that's very important I think. When people look at us they know they can see the truth not something we have imagined from our brain or something," he said.

For some of the participants the parade simply offered an opportunity to mingle with like-minded people.

"It's a part of history which I, we, like so I think that's the most important thing just to meet people here and see why they are here as well," said first-timer Justina from Poland.

The parade around the Roman Forum also included displays of battles between legionnaires and barbarians, gladiator combats and ancient dance and theatre performances.