Salii: the jumping priests of Rome

In ancient Roman religion, the Salii were the “leaping priests” (from the verb saliō “leap, jump”) of Mars supposed to have been introduced by King Numa Pompilius. They were twelve young patrician, dressed as archaic warriors: an embroidered tunic, a breastplate, a short red cloak called paludamentum, a sword, and a spiked headdress called apex. They were charged with the twelve oblong bronze shields with two recesses on the sides, called Ancilia. Among them, there was the authentic shield that Mars dropped from the sky as a gift to king…

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Vicars’ Close: the oldest residential street in Europe that also features an optical illusion.

Vicars’ Close, in Wells, Somerset, England, is claimed to be the oldest purely residential street with original buildings still intact in Europe. The first houses on this attractive street, close to Wells Cathedral in Somerset, England, were built during the mid 14th century, while the street was completed about a century later. The area was initially used to house a group of chantry priests. During the 12th century, the group of clergy who served the cathedral were responsible for chanting the divine service eight times a day and were known…

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