Ciao, blog readers! Today, we had our first action packed adventure in the Roman Forum. After a slight hold up at the entrance over our permesso (typical Forum problems), we booked it up to the top of the Palatine Hill to the entrance of the House of Livia, the wife of Rome’s first emperor Augustus (reigning 27 BC- 14 CE). Even though today’s visit to the Forum was focused on the Archaic Roman Forum (ca. 7th century BC), we made a jump forward in time because we had a special permission to go inside and see the preserved wall paintings in the Casa di Livia. While Professor Ulrich discussed the different styles of Roman wall painting, the students snapped photos and tried to avoid the random maintenance tools laying on the floor. Later on in the morning, we also had the chance to sneak a peak at the wall paintings in the nearby House of Augustus.
Art leaving the House of Livia, the group took a leap back in time and made our way over to the so-called House of Romulus, Rome’s legendary founder and first king (traditional dates 771 -717 BC). Only the post holes of the hut remain visible in the bedrock, but the structure most likely was a waddle and daub structure similar in form to the Villanovan hut urns. Jiyoung then gave her presentation on the Temple of Magna Mater (Cybele in Greek), which was an important foreign cult brought to the city of Rome at the end of the 3rd century BC. After Jiyoung’s talk, we tried making a stop in the museum at the Palatine hill but the section of the museum we wanted to see was closed for the day. Oh well.
During our lunch break, many students chilled out on a terrace in the Farnese gardens overlooking the Forum, while others explored areas of Domitian’s Palace ( which we will be revisiting later on in the program). The afternoon lecture focused on some of the buildings at the heart of the Roman Forum: Lapis Niger, Comitium, Regia, Rostra, Basilica Aemilia, and Temple of Vesta. One of the most difficult parts about studying the early Roman Forum is that most structures were damaged and rebuilt multiple times in antiquity. The remains that we see today are often later renovations and, in some cases, the buildings were rebuilt in different locations. It was really a test of the imagination trying to picture the Forum without these later constructions, but it gave the students an understanding of some of the problems associated with studying Roman archaeology. After our time in the Forum concluded for the day, the students returned to the apartments to work on their papers due tomorrow (after their customary afternoon nap, of course).
Aaron demonstrates the contraposto form outside the Casa di Livia.