Rome in 250 objects, 11 words and 11 characters. Senators, slaves, gladiators, legionaries, children. An entire empire and its legacy summarized in a thousand square meters.

It is the exhibition that this Wednesday the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya (MAC) presents, with fabulous pieces from excavations in different parts of old Hispania that explain what politics, the economy, society and culture were like and what remained of all of it. Which was a lot. What does ‘verbum’, ‘civitas’, ‘religio’, ‘negoctium’ or ‘hereditas’ mean? It’s easy, because one of the main riches that they left us was language. Our hardware.

The fabulous exhibition, curated by MAC curators Mario Cervera and Arturo de la Oliva, aged 30 and 28 respectively, wants to reach a wide range of audiences, and to do so they have installed colorful audiovisual resources, with video mapping or a projection in 360 degrees that literally makes the visitor fly over old Tarraco from the 2nd century BC, the capital of that imperial province that occupied almost the entire peninsula.

Other resources create dynamism on the archaeological pieces, to make them more attractive and understandable. One of them, on a mosaic of the Roman circus, immerses us in imperial leisure through a chariot race. Other projections allow us to read and understand the inscriptions on the column pedestals. Some fascinating characters appear, like a kind of Kardashian of the time: Lucio Licium Segundo, a guy who managed to abandon slavery and who holds the record (after the emperors) as the one who had the most inscriptions made on the feet of statues. Two dozen are known.

The last projection of the tour is large format, and under the title “Roman Catalunya. X Monuments” invites the visitor to go to the real places, some of them a few kilometers from the MAC.

Among the pieces exhibited are the Goddess of Paradís Street, found in that place in Barcino, from the 1st century AD and created in Pentelic marble, which is the same one used for the Parthenon and the Acropolis; the bronze head of the Lady Flàvia, found in Empúries and dated to the last four of the 1st century AD; the Sarcophagus of the Abduction of Prosérpina, from the 3rd century AD and from Santa Pola (Alacant); or the impressive “circus mosaic” of Barcelona, ​​from the 4th AD and which by theme constitutes a work of great singularity and enormous international significance.

Many of these pieces also reveal how our museums have been created. Many of them come from acquisitions made in the 1930s, when the MAC was created.

Most of the pieces come from finds and excavations carried out in cities of Hispania Citerior Tarraconensis (which occupied a good part of the Iberian Peninsula, with its capital in Tarraco) such as Barcino (Barcelona), Emporiae (Empúries) and Baetulo (Badalona) ( which has a simply extraordinary museum), to which objects from other sites in Catalonia, the Peninsula and the Mediterranean have been added.

One of the central ideas is that the Romans were one of the first globalized societies in history; An immense diversity of languages, cultures and religions were contaminated by Rome, which provided them with a unique substrate. Christianity was consolidated there, emerging as the dominant religion in the first centuries of the first millennium.

The playwright Eduard Olesti has created eleven fictitious profiles that are emblems of Roman life and that accompany the visitor on their walk through the MAC.

Valeri and Cornèlia are commoners; Claudi, senator; Luci and Petrònia, two children with their problems; Octàvia, a priestess; Sergi fights as a legionnaire; Clàudia trades with slaves (after abandoning agriculture: crises also persist); Helena and Gal·la are the fruit of that traffic; and Leontius fights with lions: he is a gladiator.

The exhibition is structured into eleven thematic areas, each synthesized in one word: Orbis (world), which explains how the empire was born and grew since 753 BC. and until its final decline 1,226 years later, in 473 AD. Verbum speaks of Latin, a key tool for that long survival. Civitas (city) describes the urban planning and rational cities created by the Romans, with their impressive network of roads. Potestas (power) outlines the Roman political system, in which the emperors stood out. Populus (people) narrates the social structure. Religio and fatum (destiny) deal with religious and funerary beliefs and rituals. Negotium and otium reveal the world of work and leisure, while ‘mullier’ exposes the treatment and role that women had at that time. Hereditats refers to the persistence, today, of all of the above.