Virtually explore the Vatican Museums with Smarthistory as your guide
videos + essays
Link to the Vatican Museums' website
Athanadoros, Hagesandros, and Polydoros of Rhodes, Laocoön and his Sons
The writhing agony of the Trojan Laocoon made this Hellenistic masterpiece famous throughout history.
The Regolini-Galassi tomb and the Parade Fibula
The assemblage of objects in the Regolini-Galassi tomb represents a broad geographic range and an aesthetic that indicates the influence of the ancient Near East.
Augustus of Primaporta
Nothing was more important to a Roman emperor than his image.
The Good Shepherd in Early Christianity
Find out why Hermes was recast as the Good Shepherd in early Christianity
This cloth—first woven by a wise spider—sends social messages through a system of specific patterns.
Tomb of the Scipios and the sarcophagus of Scipio Barbatus
Even in death, great Roman families were concerned with reinforcing and projecting their status.
Lysippos, Apoxyomenos (Scraper)
Ancient Greek athletes cleaned themselves with oil. This sculpture shows one athlete’s bathing ritual.
Veristic male portrait
With age comes experience, and sculptors in the Roman Republic highlighted seniority—warts and all.
Exekias, Attic black figure amphora with Ajax and Achilles playing a game
Achilles and Ajax, heroes of the Trojan War, break from battle to play a friendly game that hints at a tragic future.
Roman funeral rituals and social status: The Amiternum tomb and the tomb of the Haterii
Death, memory, and funerary rituals—monumental tombs lined the streets leading into ancient Roman cities.
Mars of Todi
Lighting struck this statue dedicated to the Etruscan god of war, marking it as a particularly sacred object.
Caravaggio, Deposition (or Entombment)
Spotlight on Christ! Watching this dramatic scene unfold, we become a part of it, as if already inside the tomb.