Pisco Wikipedia Essay

Peruvian cuisine reflects local practices and ingredients—including influences from the indigenous population including the Inca and cuisines brought in with immigrants from Europe (Spanish cuisine, Italian cuisine, German cuisine), Asia (Chinese cuisine and Japanese cuisine) and West Africa. Without the familiar ingredients from their home countries, immigrants modified their traditional cuisines by using ingredients available in Peru. The four traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes and other tubers, Amaranthaceaes (quinoa, kañiwa and kiwicha) and legumes (beans and lupins). Staples brought by the Spanish include rice, wheat and meats (beef, pork and chicken). Many traditional foods—such as quinoa, kiwicha, chili peppers, and several roots and tubers have increased in popularity in recent decades, reflecting a revival of interest in native Peruvian foods and culinary techniques. Chef Gaston Acurio has become well known for raising awareness of local ingredients. The US food criticEric Asimov has described it as one of the world's most important cuisines and as an exemplar of fusion cuisine, due to its long multicultural history.[1]


Peru is considered an important center for the genetic diversity of the world's crops:

  • Potatoes, many varieties of potato are native to the Andes mountains.[2][3] Over 99% of all cultivated potatoes worldwide are descendants of a single subspecies, namely Solanum tuberosum.[4][5] This subspecies has developed into thousands of varieties that vary by size, shape, color, and other sensory characteristics.[5]
  • Quinoa ("Indian" rice), three varieties
  • Kaniwa
  • Tarwi, a legume native to the Andes which is similar to the Lupin bean
  • Lima bean
  • Maca
  • Oca, a potato-like tuber
  • Mashua, a potato-like tuber
  • Ulluco, a potato-like tuber
  • Caigua, a vegetable with a cucumber like taste
  • Capsicum baccatum chile peppers, including Ají Amarillo and Ají Limón
  • Capsicum pubescens, Rocoto chile
  • Capsicum chinense, Ají Panca and Ají Mochero/Limo
  • Fruits—Peru has about 20 native fruits that are used in cooking or eaten fresh

The sweet potato is native to America and was domesticated there at least 5,000 years ago.[6] The much lower molecular diversity found in Peru and Ecuador. Only two varieties of sweet potato are commonly available for sale in the markets . But there are more varieties around the country. One has dry orange flesh and light tan skin and tastes sweet. The other has purple skin, is white and brown inside, and is only moderately sweet. Occasionally another variety, characterized by small tubers and dark skin, is available. Potatoes are available in a big variety. Peru has around more than 5000 varieties of potatoes, the biggest on the world. The two most common potatoes are a white flesh type and a more expensive yellow flesh type. The only commercially available native fruits native to the Andes region in general (Peru, Bolivia) are lucuma, camu camu, prickly pear, cape gooseberry, cocona, pacay (technically a legume but used as a fruit), guanabana, dragon fruit, pepino, papaya, ciruela, mammee apple, banana passionfruit, cherimoya, granadilla, moriche palm fruit, and tamarillo. Yacon, although an underground tuber, is also used as a fruit. None of the other native fruits are commercially available.

From Peru, the Spanish brought back to Europe several foods that would become staples for many peoples around the world.

  • Potatoes: Potatoes were introduced to Europe from Latin America. They were considered livestock feed in Europe until French chemist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier began serving dishes made from the tubers at his lavish banquets. His guests were immediately convinced that potatoes were fit for human consumption. Parmentier's introduction of the potato is still discussed in Europe today.[citation needed] The varieties used in Europe and most of the world, however, derive from a subspecies indigenous to Peruvian andes, namely Solanum tuberosum.
  • Beans: Several varieties of the common bean are native to Latin America including the lima bean.

The varieties of chili peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and maize that the Spanish brought back to Europe, however, were native to Peru:

  • Peppers: Chili peppers are native to America. The varieties most commonly used around the world, however, derive from Mexico and Central America. Sweet Peppers are native to Mexico and Central America. Peruvian Ají peppers are virtually unknown outside of the Andean region of South America.
  • Maize: Maize ("Indian" corn), is native to Mesoamerica and Peru, The varieties used in Europe and most of the world are from Central America. The corn grown in Peru is so sweet and unique in the world cause the characteristics it has and has very large grains and is not popular outside of Latin America.
  • Tomatoes: The tomato is native to Peru. This is evidenced by the great number of varieties available in that region. In contrast, Mesoamerica only has two varieties that are currently available commercially, namely the common Globe and Plum Tomato.

Many foods from Spain are now considered Peruvian staples, including wheat, barley, oats, rice, lentils, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), broad beans, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, onions, cucumbers, carrots, celery, lettuce, eggplant, wine, vinegar, olives, beef, pork, chicken, numerous spices (including coriander, cumin, parsley, cilantro (green coriander), laurel, mint, thyme, marjoram, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise (fennel), black pepper and oregano), bananas, quince, apples, oranges, limes, apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, melons, figs, pomegranates, honey, white sugar, almonds, walnuts, cheese, hen eggs, cow's milk, etc. Many food plants popular in Europe, however, were imported to Peru.

Cultivation of ancient plants[edit]

During the colonial period, and continuing up until the time of the Second World War, Peruvian cuisine focused on Spanish models and virtually ignored anything that could be regarded as native or Indian. Traditional food plants, which the indigenous people continued to eat, were regarded as "peasant food" to be avoided. These colonial attitudes took a long time to fade. Since the 1970s, there has been an effort to bring these native food plants out of obscurity.

Some plants cultivated by ancient societies of Peru have been rediscovered by modern Peruvians, and are carefully studied by scientists. Due to the characteristics of its land and climate and the nutritional quality of its products, some Peruvian plants may play a vital role in future nutrition. Examples include quinoa (an excellent source of essential amino acids) and kañiwa, which look and cook like cereals but are pseudocereals. Nutritionists are also studying root vegetables, such as maca, and cereals like kiwicha.

For many of Peru's inhabitants, these food stocks allow for adequate nutrition, even though living standards are poor. Abandoning many of these staples during the Spanish domination and republican eras lowered nutritional levels. Since 1985, NASA has used some of these foods—quinoa, kiwicha and maca—for astronaut meals.

Peruvian cuisine is often made spicy with ají pepper, a basic ingredient. Peruvian chili peppers are not spicy but serve to give taste and color to dishes. Rice often accompanies dishes in Peruvian cuisine, and the regional sources of foods and traditions give rise to countless varieties of preparation and dishes.

Regional differences[edit]

Peru is a country that holds not just a variety of ethnic mixes since times ranging from the Inca Empire, the Viceroyalty and the Republic, but also a climatic variety of 28[7] individual climates. The mixing of cultures and the variety of climates differ from city to city so geography, climate, culture and ethnic mix determine the variety of local cuisine.

Coastal areas[edit]

The Pacific Ocean is the principal source of aquatic resources for Peru. Peru is one of the world's top two producers and exporters of unusually high-protein fishmeal for use in livestock/aquaculture feed. Its richness in fish and other aquatic life is enormous, and many oceanic plant and animal species can only be found in Peru. As important as the Pacific is to Peru's biodiversity, freshwater biomes such as the Amazon River and Lake Titicaca also play a large role in the ecological make-up of the country.

Every coastal region, being distinct in flora and fauna populations, adapts its cuisine in accordance to the resources available in its waters.

Ceviche, a South American dish of marinated raw fish or seafood typically garnished with herbs and served as an appetizer, with many variations (pure, combination, or mixed with fish and shellfish), provides a good example of regional adaptation. Ceviche is found in almost all Peruvian restaurants on the coast, typically served with camote (sweet potato). Often spelled "cebiche" in Peru, it is the flagship dish of coastal cuisine, and one of the most popular dishes among Peruvians. It consists of Andean chili peppers, onions and acidic aromatic lime, a variety brought by the Spaniards. A spicy dish, it consists generally of bite-size pieces of white fish (such as corvina or white sea bass), marinated raw in lime juice mixed with chilis. Ceviche is served with raw onions, boiled sweet potatoes (camote), toasted corn (cancha).

Many Peruvians believe that ceviche is an aphrodisiac and hangover cure, the latter possibly due to the fact that it is traditionally consumed with beer. Unlike ceviche from Mexico and Ecuador, in Peru it does not have tomatoes. Also popular is Leche de tigre (tiger's milk), which is the Peruvian colloquial name for the juice produced from the ingredients of ceviche. It has a light spicy flavor.

Chupe de camarones (shrimp cioppino) is one of the most popular dishes of Peruvian coastal cuisine. It is made from a thick freshwater shrimp (crayfish) stock soup, potatoes, milk and chili pepper. It is regularly found in Peruvian restaurants specializing in Arequipan cuisine.

A center of immigration and centers of the Spanish Viceroyalty, Lima and Trujillo have incorporated unique dishes brought from the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors and the subsequent waves of immigrants. Besides international immigration—a large portion of which happened in Lima—there has been, since the second half of the 20th century, a strong internal flow from rural areas to cities, in particular to Lima. This has strongly influenced Lima's cuisine with the incorporation of the immigrants' ingredients and techniques.

Creole cuisine is the most widespread in this cosmopolitan city. Lima hosts a wide variety of international cuisines, with Italian and Chinese (known locally as chifa, a Chinese-Peruvian fusion) being the most popular. Japanese food, especially sushi, is also very popular, and many chain restaurants from the United States have a significant presence as well. Offerings of Arabic, Thai, Mexican, French, English, Argentine, Brazilian, and Indian cuisine can also be found in multiple locations throughout the city of Lima.

The city's bakeries are quite popular with Peruvians. One may find Peruvians standing in line in almost every bakery waiting for freshly baked white bread from 6 to 9 am and from 4 to 6 pm. The majority of Peruvians tend to eat bread for breakfast along with coffee or tea. Almost all bread in Peru, with the exception of baguettes, is fortified with added fats, such as lard. Whole wheat bread is extremely hard to find in the major cities, but more common (and often cheaper) in rural towns. Many bakeries sell white bread sprinkled with bran for health conscious customers as whole wheat flour is extremely hard to find. However, even this bread is often heavily fortified with lard, shortening or butter. Authentic whole wheat bread is imported from Europe and sold at upscale grocery stores. A few coastal cities bakeries produce "bollos," which are loaves of bread baked in stone and wood-ovens from the Andes.

Anticuchos are brochettes made from beef heart marinated in a various Peruvian spices and grilled, often with a side of boiled potato or corn. They are commonly sold by street vendors, but one may find them in creole food restaurants.

Also frequently sold by street vendors are tamales: boiled corn with meat or cheese and wrapped in a banana leaf. They are similar to humitas, which consist of corn mixed with spices, sugar, onions, filled with pork and olives and finally wrapped in the leaves of corn husks. Tamales are a common breakfast food, often served with lime and "Salsa Criolla" which is a mixture of thinnly sliced raw red onion, ají peppers, cilantro and lime juice.

Another favorite food found in many restaurants is Papa a la huancaina (Huancayo-style potatoes), a dish consisting of sliced boiled potatoes, served on a bed of lettuce with a slightly spicy cheese sauce with olives. The dish is cheap to make and uses ingredients that are readily available in Peru, yet it has complex flavours and textures so is very popular with chefs in restaurants in Peru. This combination of being cheap to make, yet favored by chefs, has helped Papa a la Huancaina become popular across all classes of Peruvian society.[8] The name of the dish it is from Huancayo.

Tacu-tacu: Mixture of beans, rice and a fried egg, on top of breaded or pan-fried steak and an Salsa Criolla.

Papa rellena (stuffed potato): mashed potatoes stuffed with ground (minced) meat, eggs, olives and various spices and then deep fried.

Arroz tapado (covered rice): uses the same stuffing of papa rellena, but rather than used as a stuffing, it is accompanied by rice.

Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian-flavored rotisserie or roaster chicken): is one of the most consumed foods in Peru. It is roasted chicken marinated in a marinade that includes various Peruvian ingredients, baked in hot ashes or on a spit-roast. The origins of the recipe for this dish date back to Lima, the capital of Peru, during the 1950s. Two Swiss citizens who were Peruvian residents, Roger Shuler and Franz Ulrich, invented and registered the patent (1950) for the machine to cook the chicken on the grill, a mechanical system of planetary rotation in that the chickens rotating on its axis and over a central axis, simultaneously. The dish comes with French fried potatoes, salad and various creams (Peruvian mayonnaise, ketchup, olive sauce, chimichurri and aji (chili) sauces of all kinds). There are many famous brands of "Pollo a la Brasa" restaurants in Peru and particularly in Lima, the most famous and popular being Hikari, Norky's, Roky's, Pardo's, and La Leña.

Sancochado is a hearty beef and vegetable broth that includes yuca (cassava) and potatoes.

A local staple is Lomo Saltado, also known as saltadito. Sliced beef (tenderloin or in Spanish "lomo") is stir-fried with, garlic, cumin powder, tomato and Spanish onion and fried-mixed with already fried French cut potatoes, coriander and parsley and accompanied with white rice. Salt and black pepper is also added to taste.

Lima has an abundance of Peruvian-style Chinese restaurants or "chifas" as they are known locally; indeed, arroz chaufa or Chinese style rice is one of the frequently sampled dishes that has found its way into Peruvian cuisine.

Arroz con pollo, or rice with chicken, is enjoyed for its rich-flavored rice combined with chicken.

Chupe de pescado or fish cioppino is popular in Lima and along the coast.

Lima butter bean salad is a salad made with Lima butter beans (called pallares in Perú), cooked whole, cooled, and mixed with a mixture of onion, tomato, and green ají, marinated in lime juice, oil, salt, and vinegar. Lima butter beans (pallares) have been part of the Peruvian cuisine for at least 6,000 years.

Butifarras, also known as Jamon del Pais, is a sandwich with "Peruvian ham", sliced onions, sliced chili peppers, lime, salt, pepper, oil, in a white bread roll.

Causa, in its basic form, is a mashed yellow potato dumpling mixed with key lime, onion, chili and oil. Varieties can have avocado, chicken, tuna or even shellfish added to the mixture. Also, causa is popular in Lima, where it is distinguished by the name Causa Limeña. Causa is usually served cold with hard boiled eggs and olives.

Carapulcra is an appetizing stewed dish of pork and chicken, dried potatoes, red chilis, peanuts and cumin. The version from the Afro-Peruvian Ica region uses fresh potatoes.

Empanadas (meat turnovers) were introduced by the Spanish during the colonial period, and later modified, possibly due to lack of Spanish ingredients (olive oil, codfish, smoked paprika, etc.). In Peru, they are filled either with chicken, beef, or cheese. Olives, and sometimes hard boiled eggs and raisins gives them a unique taste.

Ají de gallina (chili chicken) consists of thin strips of chicken served with a creamy yellow and spicy sauce, made with ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilis), cheese, milk, bread. Occasionally walnuts are added on special occasions or at upscale restaurants due to its prohibitive cost in Peru. Traditionally the meat is from non-laying hens, but today almost exclusively made from more tender chickens.

Escabeche criollo (pickled fish): "Escabeche" when the word is used alone normally refers to fish escabeche. Other varieties can use duck or chicken. The escabeche dishes rely in the cooking on the heavy use of vinegar and onions together with other spices and chili.

Cau cau is a meal consisting of mondongo or tripe stew and accompanied by rice. There are a number of versions of Cau-Cau, as it is a style of cooking a choice protein. Two noteworthy styles are the creole style simply called Tripe Cau-Cau, and the Italian-Peruvian style. Creole style is made with strips of previously cooked tripe, seasoned with a mixture of sauteed onions, garlic, yellow aji, a pinch of turmeric, salt and pepper and cubes of boiled potatoes. The mixture is cooked together to blend the flavors and acquire consistency. It is then sprinkled with mint. Some add vinegar for added flavor before serving. The other common version is the Italian-Peruvian style. It consists of strips of precooked tripe sauteed with red onions, peeled tomatoes, tomato paste and dried mushrooms, usually Porcini. After the flavors combine, it is seasoned with parsley and mixed with fried potato just prior to serving. Some chefs add a few tablespoons of wine or pisco following the sauteeing.

Chicharrones is salted pork deep-fried in its own fat. There are at least two kinds of chicharrones: pork skins, a country style ribs that are first boiled, then rendered in their own fat until they brown into chicharrones. Other types of chicharrones including deep fried squid, and other seafoods. They can be served at any time of day, including breakfast.

One of the most popular dishes on the coast is called Lomo Saltado. It is a steak dish which is fried in a wok along with peppers, tomato, garlic, onions, coriander and soy sauce. It is accompanied by french fries and rice. This dish dates back to the 19th century and is a clear exponent of Chinese-Cantonese influence on local cuisine. It is a relatively recent dish because cow meat used to be very expensive. It was not until beef was mass produced that it became widely available and used in local cuisine.

The cuisine of the northern coast offers a difference in style from the central and southern varieties. This is not only due to the coastal native Indian influence (less Andean), the Spanish influence, and the African; but also to the warmer coastal seas, hotter climate and immense geographical latitude variety.

The widely different climates between Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Cajamarca and San Martin contributes to the variety of dishes in these areas.

Northern style dishes:

Seco de Cabrito (goat stew, often substituted by lamb, chicken, or beef) is made in a pot after marinating in chicha de jora (corn beer) and spices including cilantro and garlic. This dish is most popular in the northern coast especially in Cajamarca and Lambayeque.

Seco de Chavelo (typically from Catacaos - Piura) is a type of seco that is made of cecina stewed and dried meat that has been clotted and dried along with bananas, yuca, aji panca (Capsicum chinense) and Clarito (from Chicha de Jora the Piurano style).

Cebiche de Conchas Negras (ceviche with black shells) is a dish of Piura and Tumbes is also popular along the southern coast of Ecuador due to Peruvian influence. In this version of ceviche, the seafood used in the dish should be black clams accompanied by toasted corn.


In the valleys and plains of the Andes, the diet is still a traditional one based on corn (maíz), potatoes, and an assortment of tubers. Meat comes from indigenous animals like alpacas and guinea pigs, but also from imported livestock like sheep, cattle and swine.

As with many rural cultures, most of the more elaborate dishes were reserved for festivities, while daily meals were simple affairs. Nowadays, festive dishes are consumed every day by urban dwellers, while rural diets tend to be light on meat and heavy on lahua gruel.

The pachamanca is a distinctive Peruvian dish. Cooked all over the Andean region of Peru, it is made from a variety of meats (including pork and beef), herbs and a variety of vegetables that are slowly cooked underground on a bed of heated stones. Because of its tedious preparation it is normally only made for celebrations or festivals in the Andes, though recent years have seen the appearance of many "campestre" restaurants in rural areas outside Lima, such as in Cieneguilla.[9]

Andean cooking's main freshwater fish is the trout, raised in fisheries in the region.

Cuy chactado: A dish more popular in the highlands is this meal of fried guinea pig. Often the indigenous women of the Peruvian Andes will raise the guinea pigs in their huts. Besides the use of guinea pigs as separate meals, they are often cooked in a Pachamanca with other meats and vegetables.

Olluquito con charqui is another traditional Andean dish. Olluco is a yellowish tuber (Ullucus tuberosus) domesticated by pre-Inca populations, and is visually similar to colorful small Andean potatoes, but with a distinct crunchy texture when cooked. Charqui is the technique employed in the Andean highlands to cure meat by salting, then dehydration (the word "jerky" in English is derived from this Andean (Quechuan) word. The dish is a stew of finely diced ollucos with charqui pieces (traditionally alpaca, or less frequently llama meat, though today it is also very commonly made from sheep), served with white rice.

Rocoto relleno: Arequipa dish made from stuffed rocoto chilis. Rocotos are one of the very hot (spicy) chilis of Peru. In this dish they are stuffed with spiced beef or pork, onions, olives, and egg white, then cooked in the oven with potatoes covered with cheese and milk.

Tocosh or Togosh is a traditional Quechua food prepared from fermented potato pulp.

Puka Pikanti: Ayacucho dish made from white potatoes, beets, yellow chili pepper, mint, and peanuts.

In Peruvian restaurants, steak is commonly served with rice rather than fries.


Naturally, Amazonian cuisine is made using the products local to the Amazon rainforest. Although many animal species are hunted for food in the biologically diverse jungle, standouts are the paiche (one of the world's largest freshwater fish), prepared in variety of dishes; many other types of fish like gamitana, sabalo (Salminus hilarii, see Salminus), tucunare, boquichico, palometa, bagre, and many others including the piranha, that are prepared in variety of dishes such as "timbuche" (soup) or "patarashca" (grilled in vegetables); many types of turtles like the motelo (land turtle), and the charapa and taricaya (river turtles). Hunting turtles is prohibited in Peru, therefore turtle-based dishes are scarce and expensive and not sold à la carte in restaurants. Other animals include the majas, the sajino, the agouti and jungle mammals, which are called collectively "carne de monte".[10] The Black Caiman is also considered a delicacy; but its hunt is forbidden under Peruvian law.

Among the fruits of Peru's jungle is the camu camu, which contains 40 times more vitamin C than the kiwifruit. Non-native fruits such as mango and pineapple and star apple are also in abundance, as well as other jungle fruits like, mammee apple, cherimoya, guanabana, taperiva, copoazu, dry fruits like the aguaje and the hungurahui.

Juane is rice seasoned with turmeric, and chicken wrapped in banana leaves.

Chapo is a beverage made with sweet plantain.

Other regional dishes[edit]

Chalona or Charqui is a cured dried meat originally obtained from alpaca. It is also eaten in Bolivia, and was eaten by the Indians in the coast and highlands of Peru before the arrival of the Spanish. Today lamb is often substituted for alpaca meat. It is used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes of the Puno region, Cusco, and Arequipa. It is prepared using recently cured lamb, in which furrows are made with a knife so the salt can penetrate. Salt penetration is important, because it determines how long the cured meat lasts. The meat is left to dry in the sun and cold nights for almost one month.

Chairo: A traditional soup of the Puno and Arequipa regions. It origins have been traced to the Collan Indians who live in the Andes of Bolivia and southern Peru. The soup consists of black chuño, aji panca (red chili pepper), sweet potatoes, sheep tripe and chalona.

Ocopa: A dish with some similarities to Papas a la Huancaina. It consists of boiled and sliced yellow potatoes covered with a sauce of made of aji (chili pepper), the Peruvian herb Tagetes minuta, (called huacatay; the herb gives it a vivid green color), ground peanuts, and fresh or white cheese, with sides of lettuce, boiled eggs and olives. At expensive restaurants walnuts are often added, but this is seldom done in Peruvian homes due to the prohibitive cost of walnuts in Peru. The name ocopa is also used to refer to the hot sauce by itself.[11][12]

Copús is one of the best known dishes of Piura. Its ingredients are ripe fried bananas, camotes (sweet potatoes), and seasoned hen, turkey, goat, and mutton. The meat is cooked in a furnace under the ground; this method is different from using a pachamanca since the furnace is covered with blankets and clay.

Yuca chupe or cassava soup is one of the variations in which the Peruvians enjoy cassava.

Currently, ostrich meat is being raised on farms in Arequipa, although its consumption is not widespread and limited to urban areas.

Crema de tarwi (tarwi soup): Tarwi is a vegetable native to the mountains of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. In addition to its use in soup, tarwi is used in much of Peruvian cuisine, including sancochado. Fresh tarwi can be used in stews, purees, sauces, desserts and in a variation of cebiche. In some areas, locals call it chocho. Its cultivation has recently expanded to all the countries of the Andean region. In Peru, it is principally grown in the areas of Cajamarca, Ancash, the Mantaro Valley, Ayacucho, Cusco, and Puno.

Tarwi can also be found in beverages (such as papaya juice with tarwi flour). Tarwi has been shown to have a higher vegetable protein content than soy. In pre-Incan and Incan times, it was an important part of the mostly vegetarian diet of the region. It was consumed with small quantities of meat and dried fish, providing an abundant source of protein for the population. Tarwi seeds have been found in Nazca tombs and in representations of Tiahuanaco ceramics.


Main article: Chifa

Chifa (from the Mandarin words 吃饭 "chi1 fan4", meaning "to eat rice") is the Peruvian term for Chinese food (or for a Chinese restaurant). Because many Chinese ingredients are hard to find in Peru, the Chinese modified their cuisine and incorporated many Peruvian elements (mainly Spanish, native and African) into their cuisine. Even today, it is difficult to find authentic Chinese cuisine in Peru. This is mainly due to popularity of the hybridization of Chinese food, which is commonly called "Chifa," and a lack of many Chinese ingredients.

Sweet dishes and desserts[edit]

Alfajores: a dessert found in virtually all of Spain's former colonies. It is derived from the versions popular in Spain during the colonial period. The original Spanish recipes, however, have been modified because the original ingredients are expensive in Peru (almonds, honey) or even unobtainable (hazelnuts, lemon rind, coriander seed, etc.). The basic recipe uses a base mix of flour, margarine, and powdered sugar, which is oven-baked. Alfajores consist of two or more layers of this baked pastry, and is usually filled with manjar blanco (a caramel-colored, sweet, creamy filling made with milk and sugar)

Turrones (or nougat) is another originally Spanish dessert. The original Spanish recipe, which contained ingredients that were rare or expensive in Peru (such as almonds, rose water, orange blossom water, honey) were modified in a variety of ways. One common variety found in Lima is Turrón de Doña Pepa, an anise and honey nougat that is traditionally prepared for the Señor de los Milagros (or Lord of Miracles) religious procession, during October.

Almost exclusive to the Andes region is the fruit known as lúcuma. Lúcuma juice, ice cream, and corresponding lúcuma shakes are very popular throughout Peru. Lúcuma ice cream can normally only be found in large US cities (typically in Peruvian restaurants). One popular brand of ice cream in Peru is D'Onofrio, which is owned by Nestlé.

Arroz con leche (rice pudding): Another dessert originally from Spain that can be found in various varieties throughout Latin America. Arroz con leche is one of the more common desserts found in homes and restaurants of modern-day Peru. It consists primarily of cooked rice, cinnamon/nutmeg, raisins, and milk. Rice pudding never has lemon rind as is traditional in the Spanish version. Arroz con leche is usually eaten with Peruvian Mazamorra (jelly-like clove-flavored dessert).[citation needed]

Helados (ice cream): The most common ice cream flavors found in Peru are lucuma, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Some more exotic flavors such as camu camu, guaraná and prickly pear can occasionally be found. For other commonly available flavors, however, one needs to purchase imported ice-cream as many of the ingredients are not available in Peru. Peru is one of few countries in the world where the third most popular ice-cream (after vanilla and chocolate) is not strawberry, it is in fact the "nutty" flavored, orange colored lúcuma, which is an exotic fruit grown in quantity only in Peru, and only in recent years being exported in very limited quantities as an exotic flavor (for ice cream and savory sauces) to the USA, and available in Europe essentially in food shows.

Mazamorra morada: Is a jelly-like clove-flavored dessert. It takes on the color of one of its main ingredients: purple maize. A variety of purple corn (maíz morado) that only grows in Peru adds color to the water it's boiled in, along with cinnamoncloves. When the water cools, chopped fruit, key lime and sugar are added. The mixture is served as a beverage called "chicha morada".

Picarones: a sweet, ring-shaped fritter with a pumpkin base; often served with a molasses syrup. Picarones were created during the colonial period to replace the Spanish dessert Buñuelos, as buñuelos were too expensive to make (They had an egg custard filling) and some ingredients were unavailable (lemon rinds). Peruvian Picarones are made of squash or pumpkin dough and sweetened with chancaca, raw cane sugar melted into a syrup.

Tejas: another modified Spanish dessert. The original Spanish version contained ingredients that were prohibitively expensive in Peru, such as almonds. The Peruvian version of this candy is filled with manjar blanco and coated with a fondant-like shell. Some are also made with a chocolate shell (chocoteja).

King Kong: is made of cookies (made from flour, butter, eggs and milk), filled with milk candy, some pineapple sweet and in some cases peanuts, with cookies within its layers. It is sold in one-half and one kilogram sizes. It is known as part of the culture of Lambayeque Region.

Suspiro a la Limeña: Is another Spanish-influenced dessert that uses dulce de leche, which derives from the Spanish Blancmange. The bottom layer is made of dulce de leche enriched with egg yolks. The top layer consists of meringue made with port wine. This classic criollo dessert is said to have been named by the famous Peruvian poet and author José Gálvez whose wife doña Amparo Ayarez was famous for her cooking. When asked what inspired the name, he reportedly replied, "Because it is soft and sweet, like the sigh of a woman." In this case, it would be a woman from Lima, a Limeña.

Panetón: is a type of sweet bread with dried fruit. It is usually served for breakfast around Christmas with a cup of hot chocolate. They used to come in big boxes only with huge panetóns inside but now they also sell personal portions. Chocotón is variety of panetón that replaces the fruit with chocolate bits. The bread is very light and sweet. Because Christmas is the hottest time of year, people often replace the hot chocolate with coffee or a drink that's served cold.

Flan is also a very popular dish.


Soft drinks[edit]

The most commonly encountered soft drinks in Peru are:

  • Chicha Morada: a clove flavored beverage prepared from a base of boiled purple maize and a generous amount of powdered cloves, to which sugar, cinnamon and ice are added as it cools. Occasionally chunks of pineapple are added. The taste is reminiscent of old fashioned clove flavored candy. Chicha de jora is a beer made with corn (see below)
  • Inca Kola: a lemon verbena flavored soda (verbena de limon), which is a cultural icon, served from the most humble to the most exclusive tables nationwide. Yellow in color, it is very sweet (with a candy-like taste). Inca Kola beat out Coca-Cola in Peruvian sales, the only national beverage to beat Coca-Cola in the world. This is mainly due to nationalism prevalent among Peruvians, and an advertising campaign that capitalized on the fact that Inca Kola is a Peruvian product. In 1997, however, Coca-Cola acquired 49 percent of the Inca Kola company. Although exported to various countries, Inca Kola has not enjoyed major success elsewhere.
  • Kola Inglesa: a cherry flavored red soda introduced in 1912, by its English creator, Erin Stone.
  • Kola Escocesa: a purple soda that is very traditional in the city of Arequipa. The beverage has been produced since the 1950s using mineral water.

Less common are:

  • Refresco de camu camu: Refrescos are juices of various flavours mixed with water and sugar and often served with the set menu of the day at smaller restaurants. Besides camu camu, there are more common flavours such as orange. Pure juices, such as orange juice or grape juice are seldom encountered in Peru due to their expense.
  • Té de uña de gato: a tea made from a plant from the Amazon, cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa), which is consumed for its supposed healing or medicinal properties.

Alcoholic drinks[edit]

Pisco, a type of brandy, is the national drink of Peru. It originated during the colonial period as a cheaper substitute for the Spanish liquor known as Orujo. Nevertheless, Orujo is a product made from the spoils of wine production. Pisco uses fresh grapes like wine-making. This distilled beverage made from grapes is produced in various regions of the country. Pisco Sour is a cocktail made from pisco combined with lime juice, egg white and simple syrup. Chilcano [13] is also made with Pisco. Wines come from many different regions of the country, most notably from the Ica Region.

Beer, as in many countries, is popular at all levels of society. Local brands include Pilsen Callao and Cristal. Other regional beers are Arequipeña, Cusqueña and Pilsen Trujillo from Arequipa, Cuzco and Trujillo respectively; though Cuzqueña is popular nationwide and is exported worldwide. A common beer drinking ritual among many Peruvian men involves a group sharing one glass. The party holding the bottle waits for the prior person to drink from the glass before receiving that glass, filling it and passing the bottle on to the next in line. While this custom is more common among men of lower classes of society, people of higher social status, particularly youth and occasionally women, take part in this custom for fun.

Chicha de jora is another well-known drink, based on different varieties of fermented maize and different aromatic herbs, depending on the region of the country. Its consumption is mostly limited to the Andes area.

See also[edit]



  1. ^"Peruvian Cuisine Takes On the World". New York Times. May 26, 1999. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  2. ^The Peruvian Potato Park at FarmersRights.org
  3. ^Kiple, Kenneth F. (1999), Cambridge World History of Food, 1, Cambridge University Press, p. 188, archived from the original on 11 May 2011 
  4. ^Solis, JS; et al. (2007). "Molecular description and similarity relationships among native germplasm potatoes (Solanum tuberosum ssp. tuberosum L.) using morphological data and AFLP markers". Electronic Journal of Biotechnology. 10 (3): 0. doi:10.2225/vol10-issue3-fulltext-14. 
  5. ^ abMiller, N (29 January 2008). "Using DNA, scientists hunt for the roots of the modern potato". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 10 September 2008. 
  6. ^Sweet Potato, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
  7. ^"El-Clima-De-Peru". Internacional.universia.net. 20 September 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  8. ^[1], Papa Huancaina section, retrieved 15 June 2013.
  9. ^Places for Pachamanca in Lima SurroundingsArchived 6 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^"Riqueza de la Fauna". Siturismo. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  11. ^[2]Archived 6 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^[3]Archived 6 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^Marian Blazes; About.com Guide (30 January 2012). "Chilcano de Pisco - Peruvian Brandy Cocktail - Chilcano de Pisco Recipe". Southamericanfood.about.com. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Papa a la huancaina (Huancayo-style potatoes)
Street food stand in the center of Lima.
Alpaca with aguaymanto sauce

"Flavian Dynasty" redirects here. For the Roman imperial dynasty beginning with Constantine the Great, sometimes referred to as the "Neo-Flavian" Dynasty, see Constantinian dynasty.

The Flavian dynasty was a Roman imperial dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire between 69 AD and 96 AD, encompassing the reigns of Vespasian (69–79), and his two sons Titus (79–81) and Domitian (81–96). The Flavians rose to power during the civil war of 69, known as the Year of the Four Emperors. After Galba and Otho died in quick succession, Vitellius became emperor in mid 69. His claim to the throne was quickly challenged by legions stationed in the Eastern provinces, who declared their commander Vespasian emperor in his place. The Second Battle of Bedriacum tilted the balance decisively in favour of the Flavian forces, who entered Rome on December 20. The following day, the Roman Senate officially declared Vespasian emperor of the Roman Empire, thus commencing the Flavian dynasty. Although the dynasty proved to be short-lived, several significant historic, economic and military events took place during their reign.

The reign of Titus was struck by multiple natural disasters, the most severe of which was the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79. The surrounding cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were completely buried under ash and lava. One year later, Rome was struck by fire and a plague. On the military front, the Flavian dynasty witnessed the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70, following the failed Jewish rebellion of 66. Substantial conquests were made in Great Britain under command of Gnaeus Julius Agricola between 77 and 83, while Domitian was unable to procure a decisive victory against King Decebalus in the war against the Dacians. In addition, the Empire strengthened its border defenses by expanding the fortifications along the Limes Germanicus.

The Flavians initiated economic and cultural reforms. Under Vespasian, new taxes were devised to restore the Empire's finances, while Domitian revalued the Roman coinage by increasing its silver content. A massive building programme was enacted to celebrate the ascent of the Flavian dynasty, leaving multiple enduring landmarks in the city of Rome, the most spectacular of which was the Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum.

Flavian rule came to an end on September 18, 96, when Domitian was assassinated. He was succeeded by the longtime Flavian supporter and advisor Marcus Cocceius Nerva, who founded the long-lived Nerva–Antonine dynasty. The dynasty was unique among the 4 dynasties of the Principate Era, in that it was only one man and his two sons, without any extended or adopted family.


Family history[edit]

Decades of civil war during the 1st century BC had contributed greatly to the demise of the old aristocracy of Rome, which was gradually replaced in prominence by a new Italian nobility during the early part of the 1st century AD.[1] One such family were the Flavians, or gens Flavia, which rose from relative obscurity to prominence in just four generations, acquiring wealth and status under the emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Vespasian's grandfather, Titus Flavius Petro, had served as a centurion under Pompey during Caesar's civil war. His military career ended in disgrace when he fled the battlefield at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC.[2] Nevertheless, Petro managed to improve his status by marrying the extremely wealthy Tertulla, whose fortune guaranteed the upwards mobility of Petro's son Titus Flavius Sabinus I.[3] Sabinus himself amassed further wealth and possible equestrian status through his services as tax collector in Asia and banker in Helvetia (modern Switzerland)). By marrying Vespasia Polla he allied himself to the more prestigious patriciangens Vespasia, ensuring the elevation of his sons Titus Flavius Sabinus II and Vespasian to the senatorial rank.[3]

Around 38 AD, Vespasian married Domitilla the Elder, the daughter of an equestrian from Ferentium. They had two sons, Titus Flavius Vespasianus (born in 39) and Titus Flavius Domitianus (born in 51), and a daughter, Domitilla (born in 45).[4] Domitilla the Elder died before Vespasian became emperor. Thereafter his mistress Caenis was his wife in all but name until she died in 74.[5] The political career of Vespasian included the offices of quaestor, aedile and praetor, and culminated with a consulship in 51, the year Domitian was born. As a military commander, he gained early renown by participating in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43.[6] Nevertheless, ancient sources allege poverty for the Flavian family at the time of Domitian's upbringing,[7] even claiming Vespasian had fallen into disrepute under the emperors Caligula (37–41) and Nero (54–68).[8] Modern history has refuted these claims, suggesting these stories were later circulated under Flavian rule as part of a propaganda campaign to diminish success under the less reputable Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, and maximize achievements under Emperor Claudius (41–54) and his son Britannicus.[9] By all appearances, imperial favour for the Flavians was high throughout the 40s and 60s. While Titus received a court education in the company of Britannicus, Vespasian pursued a successful political and military career. Following a prolonged period of retirement during the 50s, he returned to public office under Nero, serving as proconsul of the Africa province in 63, and accompanying the emperor during an official tour of Greece in 66.[10]

From c. 57 to 59, Titus was a military tribune in Germania, and later served in Britannia. His first wife, Arrecina Tertulla, died two years after their marriage, in 65.[11] Titus then took a new wife of a more distinguished family, Marcia Furnilla. However, Marcia's family was closely linked to the opposition to Emperor Nero. Her uncle Barea Soranus and his daughter Servilia were among those who were killed after the failed Pisonian conspiracy of 65.[12] Some modern historians theorize that Titus divorced his wife because of her family's connection to the conspiracy.[13][14] He never remarried. Titus appears to have had multiple daughters, at least one of them by Marcia Furnilla.[15] The only one known to have survived to adulthood was Julia Flavia, perhaps Titus's child by Arrecina, whose mother was also named Julia.[15] During this period Titus also practiced law and attained the rank of quaestor.[16]

In 66, the Jews of the Judaea Provincerevolted against the Roman Empire. Cestius Gallus, the legate of Syria, was forced to retreat from Jerusalem and defeated at the battle ofBeth-Horon.[17] The pro-Roman king Agrippa II and his sister Berenice fled the city to the Galilee where they later gave themselves up to the Romans. Nero appointed Vespasian to put down the rebellion, who was dispatched to the region at once with the fifth and tenth legions.[18][19] He was later joined by Titus at Ptolemais, bringing with him the fifteenth legion.[20] With a strength of 60,000 professional soldiers, the Romans quickly swept across the Galilee, and by 68 marched on Jerusalem.[20]

Rise to power[edit]

Main articles: Year of the Four Emperors, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius

On 9 June 68, amidst growing opposition of the Senate and the army, Nero committed suicide, and with him the Julio-Claudian dynasty came to an end. Chaos ensued, leading to a year of brutal civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors, during which the four most influential generals in the Roman Empire—Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian—successively vied for the imperial power. News of Nero's death reached Vespasian as he was preparing to besiege the city of Jerusalem. Almost simultaneously the Senate had declared Galba, then governor of Hispania Tarraconensis (modern Spain), as Emperor of Rome. Rather than continue his campaign, Vespasian decided to await further orders and send Titus to greet the new Emperor.[21] Before reaching Italy however, Titus learnt that Galba had been murdered and replaced by Otho, the governor of Lusitania (modern Portugal). At the same time Vitellius and his armies in Germania had risen in revolt, and prepared to march on Rome, intent on overthrowing Otho. Not wanting to risk being taken hostage by one side or the other, Titus abandoned the journey to Rome and rejoined his father in Judaea.[22]

Otho and Vitellius realised the potential threat posed by the Flavian faction. With four legions at his disposal, Vespasian commanded a strength of nearly 80,000 soldiers. His position in Judaea further granted him the advantage of being nearest to the vital province of Egypt, which controlled the grain supply to Rome. His brother Titus Flavius Sabinus II, as city prefect, commanded the entire city garrison of Rome.[14] Tensions among the Flavian troops ran high, but as long as Galba and Otho remained in power, Vespasian refused to take action.[23] When Otho was defeated by Vitellius at the First Battle of Bedriacum however, the armies in Judaea and Egypt took matters into their own hands and declared Vespasian emperor on 1 July 69.[24] Vespasian accepted, and entered an alliance with Gaius Licinius Mucianus, the governor of Syria, against Vitellius.[24] A strong force drawn from the Judaean and Syrian legions marched on Rome under the command of Mucianus, while Vespasian himself travelled to Alexandria, leaving Titus in charge of ending the Jewish rebellion.[25]

In Rome meanwhile, Domitian was placed under house arrest by Vitellius, as a safeguard against future Flavian aggression.[26] Support for the old emperor was waning however, as more legions throughout the empire pledged their allegiance to Vespasian. On 24 October 69 the forces of Vitellius and Vespasian clashed at the Second Battle of Bedriacum, which ended in a crushing defeat for the armies of Vitellius.[27] In despair, he attempted to negotiate a surrender. Terms of peace, including a voluntary abdication, were agreed upon with Titus Flavius Sabinus II,[28] but the soldiers of the Praetorian Guard—the imperial bodyguard—considered such a resignation disgraceful, and prevented Vitellius from carrying out the treaty.[29] On the morning of 18 December, the emperor appeared to deposit the imperial insignia at the Temple of Concord, but at the last minute retraced his steps to the imperial palace. In the confusion, the leading men of the state gathered at Sabinus' house, proclaiming Vespasian Emperor, but the multitude dispersed when Vitellian cohorts clashed with the armed escort of Sabinus, who was forced to retreat to the Capitoline Hill.[30] During the night, he was joined by his relatives, including Domitian. The armies of Mucianus were nearing Rome, but the besieged Flavian party did not hold out for longer than a day. On 19 December, Vitellianists burst onto the Capitol, and in the resulting skirmish, Sabinus was captured and executed. Domitian himself managed to escape by disguising himself as a worshipper of Isis, and spent the night in safety with one of his father's supporters.[30] By the afternoon of 20 December Vitellius was dead, his armies having been defeated by the Flavian legions. With nothing more to be feared from the enemy, Domitian came forward to meet the invading forces; he was universally saluted by the title of Caesar, and the mass of troops conducted him to his father's house.[30] The following day, 21 December, the Senate proclaimed Vespasian emperor of the Roman Empire.[31]

Although the war had officially ended, a state of anarchy and lawlessness pervaded in the first days following the demise of Vitellius. Order was properly restored by Mucianus in early 70, who headed an interim government with Domitian as the representative of the Flavian family in the Senate.[30] Upon receiving the tidings of his rival's defeat and death at Alexandria, the new Emperor at once forwarded supplies of urgently needed grain to Rome, along with an edict or a declaration of policy, in which he gave assurance of an entire reversal of the laws of Nero, especially those relating to treason. In early 70, Vespasian was still in Egypt however, continuing to consolidate support from the Egyptians before departing.[32] By the end 70, he finally returned to Rome, and was properly installed as Emperor.

The Flavian dynasty[edit]

Vespasian (69–79)[edit]

Main article: Vespasian

Little factual information survives about Vespasian's government during the ten years he was Emperor. Vespasian spent his first year as a ruler in Egypt, during which the administration of the empire was given to Mucianus, aided by Vespasian's son Domitian. Modern historians believe that Vespasian remained there in order to consolidate support from the Egyptians.[33] In mid-70, Vespasian first came to Rome and immediately embarked on a widespread propaganda campaign to consolidate his power and promote the new dynasty. His reign is best known for financial reforms following the demise of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, such as the institution of the tax on urinals, and the numerous military campaigns fought during the 70s. The most significant of these was the First Jewish-Roman War, which ended in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by Titus. In addition, Vespasian faced several uprisings in Egypt, Gaul and Germania, and reportedly survived several conspiracies against him.[34] Vespasian helped rebuild Rome after the civil war, adding a temple to peace and beginning construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum.[35] Vespasian died of natural causes on June 23, 79, and was immediately succeeded by his eldest son Titus.[36] The ancient historians that lived through the period such as Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and Pliny the Elder speak well of Vespasian while condemning the emperors that came before him.[37]

Titus (79–81)[edit]

Main article: Titus

Despite initial concerns over his character, Titus ruled to great acclaim following the death of Vespasian on June 23, 79 and was considered a good emperor by Suetonius and other contemporary historians.[38] In this role he is best known for his public building program in Rome, and completing the construction of the Colosseum in 80,[39] but also for his generosity in relieving the suffering caused by two disasters, the Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79, and the fire of Rome of 80.[40] Titus continued his father's efforts to promote the Flavian dynasty. He revived practice of the imperial cult, deified his father, and laid foundations for what would later become the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, which was finished by Domitian.[41][42] After barely two years in office, Titus unexpectedly died of a fever on September 13, 81, and was deified by the Roman Senate.[43]

Domitian (81–96)[edit]

Main article: Domitian

Domitian was declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard the day after Titus' death, commencing a reign which lasted more than fifteen years—longer than any man who had governed Rome since Tiberius. Domitian strengthened the economy by revaluing the Roman coinage,[44] expanded the border defenses of the Empire,[45] and initiated a massive building programme to restore the damaged city of Rome.[46] In Britain, Gnaeus Julius Agricola expanded the Roman Empire as far as modern day Scotland,[47] but in Dacia, Domitian was unable to procure a decisive victory in the war against the Dacians.[48] On September 18, 96, Domitian was assassinated by court officials, and with him the Flavian dynasty came to an end. The same day, he was succeeded by his friend and advisor Nerva, who founded the long-lasting Nervan-Antonian dynasty. Domitian's memory was condemned to oblivion by the Roman Senate, with which he had a notoriously difficult relationship throughout his reign. Senatorial authors such as Tacitus, Pliny the Younger and Suetonius published histories after his death, propagating the view of Domitian as a cruel and paranoid tyrant. Modern history has rejected these views, instead characterising Domitian as a ruthless but efficient autocrat, whose cultural, economic and political programme provided the foundation for the Principate of the peaceful 2nd century. His successors Nerva and Trajan were less restrictive, but in reality their policies differed little from Domitian's.[49]



Since the fall of the Republic, the authority of the Roman Senate had largely eroded under the quasi-monarchical system of government established by Augustus, known as the Principate. The Principate allowed the existence of a de facto dictatorial regime, while maintaining the formal framework of the Roman Republic.[50] Most Emperors upheld the public facade of democracy, and in return the Senate implicitly acknowledged the Emperor's status as a de facto monarch.[51] The civil war of 69 had made it abundantly clear that real power in the Empire lay with control over the army. By the time Vespasian was proclaimed emperor in Rome, any hope of restoring the Republic had long dissipated.

The Flavian approach to government was one of both implicit and explicit exclusion. When Vespasian returned to Rome in mid-70, he immediately embarked on a series of efforts to consolidate his power and prevent future revolts. He offered gifts to the military and dismissed or punished those soldiers loyal to Vitellius.[52] He also restructured the Senatorial and Equestrian orders, removing his enemies and adding his allies. Executive control was largely distributed among members of his family. Non-Flavians were virtually excluded from important public offices, even those who had been among Vespasian's earliest supporters during the civil war. Mucianus slowly disappears from the historical records during this time, and it is believed he died sometime between 75 and 77.[53] That it was Vespasian's intention to found a long-lasting dynasty to govern the Roman Empire was most evident in the powers he conferred upon his eldest son Titus. Titus shared tribunician power with his father, received seven consulships, the censorship, and perhaps most remarkably, was given command of the Praetorian Guard.[54] Because Titus effectively acted as co-emperor with his father, no abrupt change in Flavian policy occurred during his brief reign from 79 until 81.[55]

Domitian's approach to government was less subtle than his father and brother. Once Emperor, he quickly dispensed with the Republican facade[56] and transformed his government more or less formally into the divine monarchy he believed it to be. By moving the centre of power to the imperial court, Domitian openly rendered the Senate's powers obsolete. He became personally involved in all branches of the administration: edicts were issued governing the smallest details of everyday life and law, while taxation and public morals were rigidly enforced.[57] Nevertheless, Domitian did make concessions toward senatorial opinion. Whereas his father and brother had virtually excluded non-Flavians from public office, Domitian rarely favoured his own family members in the distribution of strategic posts, admitting a surprisingly large number of provincials and potential opponents to the consulship,[58] and assigning men of the equestrian order to run the imperial bureaucracy.[59]

Financial reforms[edit]

One of Vespasian's first acts as Emperor was to enforce a tax reform to restore the Empire's depleted treasury. After Vespasian arrived in Rome in mid-70, Mucianus continued to press Vespasian to collect as many taxes as possible,[60] renewing old ones and instituted new ones. Mucianus and Vespasian increased the tribute of the provinces, and kept a watchful eye upon the treasury officials. The Latin proverb "Pecunia non olet" ("Money does not smell") may have been created when he had introduced a urine tax on public toilets.

Upon his accession, Domitian revalued the Roman coinage to the standard of Augustus, increasing the silver content of the denarius by 12%. An imminent crisis in 85 however forced a devaluation to the Neronian standard of 65,[61] but this was still higher than the level which Vespasian and Titus had maintained during their reign, and Domitian's rigorous taxation policy ensured that this standard was sustained for the following eleven years.[61] Coin types from this era display a highly consistent degree of quality, including meticulous attention to Domitian's titulature, and exceptionally refined artwork on the reverse portraits.[61]

Jones estimates Domitian's annual income at more than 1,200 million sestertii, of which over one third would presumably have been spent at maintaining the Roman army.[62] The other major area of expenditure encompassed the vast reconstruction programme carried out on the city of Rome itself.


Military activity[edit]

Main articles: First Jewish-Roman War, Siege of Jerusalem (70), Roman conquest of Britain, and Trajan's Dacian Wars

The most significant military campaign undertaken during the Flavian period, was the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 by Titus. The destruction of the city was the culmination of the Roman campaign in Judeae following the Jewish uprising of 66. The Second Temple was completely demolished, after which Titus's soldiers proclaimed him imperator in honor of the victory.[63]Jerusalem was sacked and much of the population killed or dispersed. Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish.[64] 97,000 were captured and enslaved, including Simon Bar Giora and John of Giscala.[64] Many fled to areas around the Mediterranean. Titus reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, as there is "no merit in vanquishing people forsaken by their own God".[65] Upon his return to Rome in 71, Titus was awarded a triumph.[66] Accompanied by Vespasian and Domitian, he rode into the city, enthusiastically saluted by the Roman populace and preceded by a lavish parade containing treasures and captives from the war. Josephus describes a procession with large amounts of gold and silver carried along the route, followed by elaborate re-enactments of the war, Jewish prisoners, and finally the treasures taken from the Temple of Jerusalem, including the Menorah and the Torah.[67] Leaders of the resistance were executed in the Forum, after which the procession closed with religious sacrifices at the Temple of Jupiter.[68] The triumphalArch of Titus, which stands at one entrance to the Forum, memorializes the victory of Titus.

The conquest of Britain continued under command of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, who expanded the Roman Empire as far as Caledonia, or modern day Scotland, between 77 and 84. In 82 Agricola crossed an unidentified body of water and defeated peoples unknown to the Romans until then.[69] He fortified the coast facing Ireland, and Tacitus recalls that his father-in-law often claimed the island could be conquered with a single legion and a few auxiliaries.[70] He had given refuge to an exiled Irish king whom he hoped he might use as the excuse for conquest. This conquest never happened, but some historians believe that the crossing referred to was in fact a small-scale exploratory or punitive expedition to Ireland.[71] The following year Agricola raised a fleet and pushed beyond the Forth into Caledonia. To aid the advance, an expansive legionary fortress was constructed at Inchtuthil.[70] In the summer of 84, Agricola faced the armies of the Caledonians, led by Calgacus, at the Battle of Mons Graupius.[72] Although the Romans inflicted heavy losses on the Calidonians, two thirds of their army managed to escape and hide in the Scottish marshes and Highlands, ultimately preventing Agricola from bringing the entire British island under his control.[70]

The military campaigns undertaken during Domitian's reign were usually defensive in nature, as the Emperor rejected the idea of expansionist warfare.[73] His most significant military contribution was the development of the Limes Germanicus, which encompassed a vast network of roads, forts and watchtowers constructed along the Rhine river to defend the Empire.[74] Nevertheless, several important wars were fought in Gaul, against the Chatti, and across the Danube frontier against the Suebi, the Sarmatians, and the Dacians. Led by King Decebalus, the Dacians invaded the province of Moesia around 84 or 85, wreaking considerable havoc and killing the Moesian governor Oppius Sabinus.[75] Domitian immediately launched a counteroffensive, which resulted in the destruction of a legion during an ill-fated expedition into Dacia. Their commander Cornelius Fuscus was killed, and the battle standard of the Praetorian Guard lost.[76] In 87, the Romans invaded Dacia once more, this time under command of Tettius Julianus, and finally managed to defeat Decebalus late in 88, at the same site where Fuscus had previously been killed.[77] An attack on Dacia's capital canceled however when a crisis arose on the German frontier, forcing Domitian to sign a peace treaty with Decebalus which was severely criticized by contemporary authors.[78] For the remainder of Domitian's reign Dacia remained a relatively peaceful client kingdom, but Decebalus used the Roman money to fortify his defenses, and continued to defy Rome. It was not until the reign of Trajan, in 106, that a decisive victory against Decebalus was procured. Again, the Roman army sustained heavy losses, but Trajan succeeded in capturing Sarmizegetusa and, importantly, annexed the gold and silver mines of Dacia.[79]

Natural disasters[edit]

Main articles: Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79, Pompeii, and Herculaneum

Although his administration was marked by a relative absence of major military or political conflicts, Titus faced a number of major disasters during his brief reign. On August 24, 79, barely two months after his accession, Mount Vesuvius erupted,[80] resulting in the almost complete destruction of life and property in the cities and resort communities around the Bay of Naples. The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried under metres of stone and lava,[81] killing thousands of citizens.[82] Titus appointed two ex-consuls to organise and coordinate the relief effort, while personally donating large amounts of money from the imperial treasury to aid the victims of the volcano.[83] Additionally, he visited Pompeii once after the eruption and again the following year.[84] The city was lost for nearly 1700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire, frozen at the moment it was buried on August 24, 79. The Forum, the baths, many houses, and some out-of-town villas like the Villa of the Mysteries remain surprisingly well preserved. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On-going excavations reveal new insights into the Roman history and culture.

During Titus' second visit to the disaster area, a fire struck Rome which lasted for three days.[83][84] Although the extent of the damage was not as disastrous as during the Great Fire of 64, crucially sparing the many districts of insulae, Cassius Dio records a long list of important public buildings that were destroyed, including Agrippa's Pantheon, the Temple of Jupiter, the Diribitorium, parts of Pompey's Theatre and the Saepta Julia among others.[84] Once again, Titus personally compensated for the damaged regions.[84] According to Suetonius, a plague similarly struck during the fire.[83] The nature of the disease, however, or the death toll are unknown.


Suetonius claims that Vespasian was continuously met with conspiracies against him.[34] Only one conspiracy is known specifically. In 78 or 79, Eprius Marcellus and Aulus Caecina Alienus attempted to incite the Praetorian Guard to mutiny against Vespasian, but the conspiracy was thwarted by Titus.[85] According to the historian John Crook however, the alleged conspiracy was in fact a calculated plot by the Flavian faction to remove members of the opposition tied to Mucianus, with the mutinous address found on Caecina's body a forgery by Titus.[86] When faced with real conspiracies however, Vespasian and Titus treated their enemies with lenience. "I will not kill a dog that barks at me," were words expressing the temper of Vespasian, while Titus once demonstrated his generosity as Emperor by inviting men who were suspected of aspiring to the throne to dinner, rewarding them with gifts and allowing them to be seated next to him at the games.[87]

Domitian appears to have met with several conspiracies during his reign, one of which led to his eventual assassination in 96. The first significant revolt arose on 1 January 89, when the governor of Germania Superior, Lucius Antonius Saturninus, and his two legions at Mainz, Legio XIV Gemina and Legio XXI Rapax, rebelled against the Roman Empire with the aid of the Chatti.[88] The precise cause for the rebellion is uncertain, although it appears to have been planned well in advance. The Senatorial officers may have disapproved of Domitian's military strategies, such as his decision to fortify the German frontier rather than attack, his recent retreat from Britain, and finally the disgraceful policy of appeasement towards Decebalus.[89] At any rate, the uprising was strictly confined to Saturninus' province, and quickly detected once the rumour spread across the neighbouring provinces. The governor of Germania Inferior, Lappius Maximus, moved to the region at once, assisted by the procurator of Rhaetia, Titus Flavius Norbanus. From Spain, Trajan was summoned, whilst Domitian himself came from Rome with the Praetorian Guard. By a stroke of luck, a thaw prevented the Chatti from crossing the Rhine and coming to Saturninus' aid.[90] Within twenty-four days the rebellion was crushed, and its leaders at Mainz savagely punished. The mutinous legions were sent to the front in Illyricum, while those who had assisted in their defeat were duly rewarded.[91]

Both Tacitus and Suetonius speak of escalating persecutions toward the end of Domitian's reign, identifying a point of sharp increase around 93, or sometime after the failed revolt of Saturninus in 89.[92][93] At least twenty senatorial opponents were executed,[94] including Domitia Longina's former husband Lucius Aelius Lamia and three of Domitian's own family members, Titus Flavius Sabinus IV, Titus Flavius Clemens and Marcus Arrecinus Clemens.[95] Some of these men were executed as early as 83 or 85 however, lending little credit to Tacitus' notion of a "reign of terror" late in Domitian's reign. According to Suetonius, some were convicted for corruption or treason, others on trivial charges, which Domitian justified through his suspicion.

Flavian culture[edit]


Since the reign of Tiberius, the rulers of the Julio-Claudian dynasty had legitimized their power through adopted-line descent from Augustus and Julius Caesar. Vespasian could no longer claim such a relation however. Therefore, a massive propaganda campaign was initiated to justify Flavian rule as having been predetermined through divine providence.[96] At the same time, Flavian propaganda emphasised Vespasian's role as a bringer of peace following the crisis of 69. Nearly one-third of all coins minted in Rome under Vespasian celebrated military victory or peace,[97] while the word vindex was removed from coins as to not remind the public of rebellious Vindex. Construction projects bore inscriptions praising Vespasian and condemning previous emperors,[98] and a Temple of Peace was constructed in the forum.[35]

The Flavians also controlled public opinion through literature. Vespasian approved histories written under his reign, assuring biases against him were removed,[99] while also giving financial rewards to contemporary writers.[100] The ancient historians that lived through the period such as Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and Pliny the Elder speak suspiciously well of Vespasian while condemning the emperors that came before him.[37] Tacitus admits that his status was elevated by Vespasian, Josephus identifies Vespasian as a patron and savior, and Pliny dedicated his Natural Histories to Vespasian, Titus.[101] Those that spoke against Vespasian were punished. A number of stoic philosophers were accused of corrupting students with inappropriate teachings and were expelled from Rome.[102]Helvidius Priscus, a pro-republic philosopher, was executed for his teachings.[103]

Titus and Domitian also revived the practice of the imperial cult, which had fallen somewhat out of use under Vespasian. Significantly, Domitian's first act as an Emperor was the deification of his brother Titus. Upon their deaths, his infant son, and niece Julia Flavia, were likewise enrolled among the gods. To foster the worship of the imperial family, Domitian erected a dynastic mausoleum on the site of Vespasian's former house on the Quirinal,[104] and completed the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, a shrine dedicated to the worship of his deified father and brother.[105] To memorialize the military triumphs of the Flavian family, he ordered the construction of the Templum Divorum and the Templum Fortuna Redux, and completed the Arch of Titus. In order to further justify the divine nature of the Flavian rule, Domitian also emphasized connections with the chief deity Jupiter,[106] most significantly through the impressive restoration of the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill.


Further information: Category:Building projects of the Flavian dynasty, Colosseum, and Rabirius (architect)

The Flavian dynasty is perhaps best known for its vast construction programme on the city of Rome, intended to restore the capital from the damage it had suffered during the Great Fire of 64, and the civil war of 69. Vespasian added the temple of Peace and the temple to the Deified Claudius.[107] In 75 a colossal statue of Apollo, begun under Nero as a statue of himself, was finished on Vespasian's orders, and he also dedicated a stage of the theater of Marcellus. Construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, presently better known as the Colosseum (probably after the nearby statue), was begun in 70 under Vespasian and finally completed in 80 under Titus.[108] In addition to providing spectacular entertainments to the Roman populace, the building was also conceived as a gigantic triumphal monument to commemorate the military achievements of the Flavians during the Jewish wars.[109] Adjacent to the amphitheatre, within the precinct of Nero's Golden House, Titus also ordered the construction of a new public bath-house, which was to bear his name.[110] Construction of this building was hastily finished to coincide with the completion of the Flavian Amphitheatre.[111]

The bulk of the Flavian construction projects was carried out during the reign of Domitian, who spent lavishly to restore and embellish the city of Rome. Much more than a renovation project however, Domitian's building programme was intended to be the crowning achievement of an Empire wide cultural renaissance. Around fifty structures were erected, restored or completed, a number second only to the amount erected under Augustus.[112] Among the most important new structures were an Odeum, a Stadium, and an expansive palace on the Palatine Hill, known as the Flavian Palace, which was designed by Domitian's master architect Rabirius.[113] The most important building Domitian restored was the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill, which was said to have been covered with a gilded roof. Among those he completed were the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, the Arch of Titus, and the Colosseum, to which he added a fourth level and finished the interior seating area.[105]


Main articles: Inaugural games of the Flavian Amphitheatre and Capitoline Games

Both Titus and Domitian were fond of gladiatorial games, and realised its importance to appease the citizens of Rome. In the newly constructed Colosseum, the Flavians provided for spectacular entertainments. The Inaugural games of the Flavian Amphitheatre lasted for a hundred days and were said to be extremely elaborate, including gladiatorial combat, fights between wild animals (elephants and cranes), mock naval battles for which the theatre was flooded, horse races and chariot races.[110] During the games, wooden balls were dropped into the audience, inscribed with various prizes (clothing, gold, or even slaves), which could then be traded for the designated item.[110]

An estimated 135 million sestertii was spent on donatives, or congiaria, throughout Domitian's reign.[114] In addition, he also revived the practice of public banquets, which had been reduced to a simple distribution of food under Nero, while he invested large sums on entertainment and games. In 86, he founded the Capitoline Games, a quadrennial contest comprising athletic displays, chariot races, and competitions for oratory, music and acting.[115] Domitian himself supported the travels of competitors from the whole Empire and attributed the prizes. Innovations were also introduced into the regular gladiatorial games, such as naval contests, night-time battles, and female and dwarf gladiator fights.[116] Finally, he added two new factions, Gold and Purple, to chariot races, besides the regular White, Red, Green and Blue teams.


The Flavians, although a relatively short-lived dynasty, helped restore stability to an empire on its knees. Although all three have been criticised, especially based on their more centralised style of rule, they issued reforms that created a stable enough empire to last well into the 3rd century. However, their background as a military dynasty led to further marginalisation of the senate, and a conclusive move away from princeps, or first citizen, and toward imperator, or emperor.

Little factual information survives about Vespasian's government during the ten years he was emperor, his reign is best known for financial reforms following the demise of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Vespasian was noted for his mildness and for loyalty to the people. For example, much money was spent on public works and the restoration and beautification of Rome: a new forum, the Temple of Peace, the public baths and the Colosseum.

Titus's record among ancient historians stands as one of the most exemplary of any emperor. All the surviving accounts from this period, many of them written by his own contemporaries such as Suetonius Tranquilius, Cassius Dio, Pliny the Elder, present a highly favourable view towards Titus. His character has especially prospered in comparison with that of his brother Domitian. In contrast to the ideal portrayal of Titus in Roman histories, in Jewish memory "Titus the Wicked" is remembered as an evil oppressor and destroyer of the Temple. For example, one legend in the Babylonian Talmud describes Titus as having had sex with a whore on a Torah scroll inside the Temple during its destruction.[117]

Although contemporary historians vilified Domitian after his death, his administration provided the foundation for the peaceful empire of the 2nd century CE, and the culmination of the 'Pax Romana'. His successors Nerva and Trajan were less restrictive, but in reality their policies differed little from Domitian's. Much more than a gloomy coda to the 1st century, the Roman Empire prospered between 81 and 96, in a reign which Theodor Mommsen described as the sombre but intelligent despotism of Domitian.[118]

Dynastic Timeline[edit]


  1. ^Jones (1992), p. 3
  2. ^Jones (1992), p. 1
  3. ^ abJones (1992), p. 2
  4. ^Townend (1961), p. 62
  5. ^Smith, William, Sir, ed. 1813-1893 (1867). A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. Boston: Little, Brown and co. p. 1248. 
  6. ^Jones (1992), p. 8
  7. ^Suetonius, Life of Domitian 1
  8. ^Suetonius, Life of Domitian 4
  9. ^Jones (1992), p. 7
  10. ^Jones (1992), pp. 9–11
  11. ^Jones & Milns (2002), pp. 95–96
  12. ^Jones (1992), p. 168
  13. ^Townend (1961), p. 57
  14. ^ abJones (1992), p. 11
  15. ^ ab
Set of three aurei depicting the rulers of the Flavian dynasty. Top to bottom: Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.
This relief from the Arch of Titus depicts Roman soldiers carrying treasures from the Temple of Jerusalem, including the Menorah. The city was besieged and destroyed by Titus in 70.
The most enduring landmark of the Flavian dynasty was the Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum (in Italian Colosseo). Its construction was begun by Vespasian, and ultimately finished by Titus and Domitian, financed from the spoils of the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple.

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