Ciao, friends and family!
Today was an exciting Saturday full of imperial Rome!
Our adventure began at a small park by the Forum Transitorium (Forum of Nerva) and the Templum Pacis! Unfortunately a few of us started the day by accidently purchasing overpriced, icky tasting cappuccinos, but it didn’t matter because the day was full of such incredible sites!
Our first monument of the day was the Templum Pacis. Dedicated by Vespasian in 75 CE, the “forum” space possibly had long reflecting pools similar to the similar pools we saw in Turkey (in the agora at Aphrodisias and in front of the temple at Laodikeia). It was a monument that commemorated peace under Vespasian. A peace that both restored calm after a period of civil war post-Nero and that created calm after successful campaigns in Jerusalem.
The Templum Pacis also housed the Forma Urbis (Severan marble map of Rome), a marble map of 151 marble slabs that encompassed 235 m2. We could still see the holes used for marble revetment and the pattern that the marble slabs would have had placed on the wall!
Next, we crossed the street to discuss the Forum Transitorium (my personal favorite of the imperial fora). The Forum Transitorium was a project begun by Domitian, but dedicated by Nerva in 97 CE. It occupied the space between the Forum of Augustus and the Templum Pacis and replaced an earlier road that ran between the two fora. There are believed to have been two temples in the forum, one to Minerva (Domitian’s patron) and one to Janus. On one of the surviving walls of the forum, we saw columns en ressaut (used only for decoration) and a frieze course of women weaving. This frieze both represents Athena as the goddess of crafts and possibly the myth of Arachne.
During our quick coffee break we watched, in a mixture of amazement and horror, as someone fed just about every pigeon and seagull in Rome with birdseed from trash bags. We reconvened to begin Emmanuel’s presentation on the incredible Trajan’s market complex! Exploring the complex was great because we got to see the various uses of vaulted spaces (including the unique form of cross-vaulting in the great market hall), the best preserved second century street (Via Biberate), and archeological finds from the imperial fora (such as the putti from the Temple of Venus Genetrix, the caryatids and shields from the Forum of Augustus, and one of the captured Dacians from the Forum of Trajan).
We rounded out the first half of the day in the Forum of Trajan (dedicated by Trajan in 113 CE), discussing the general layout of the space, the basilica Ulpia, the use of captured Dacians as caryatid/telamon figures, and the Greek and Latin libraries that flanked the column! (We will hear more about the column of Trajan with Aaron’s and Thomas’ presentation on the reliefs of the column at the EUR later this week!)
Our leisurely lunch provided us the opportunity to take a quick break. Some of us chose to go shopping, some of us chose to memorize the dates of the major emperors for our quiz, some of us wandered, and some of us did other things, I guess. Regardless, we all reconvened in front of the Pantheon with full stomachs, ready to hear Jin’s lovely presentation.
Though it was ridiculously crowded, Jin was still able to show us around the Pantheon! Agrippa, in 25 BCE, completed the Pantheon. This original complex, however, suffered damage from lightening strikes and fire and was rebuilt several more times; the current plan resembles a reconstruction from around 117 – 126 CE during Hadrian’s reign. The building is a kind of playground for the juxtaposition of curvilinear and rectilinear shapes and the dome is truly spectacular (Apparently, there are times that rose petals are thrown into the Pantheon from the oculus!) The actual purpose for the structure of the Pantheon remains uncertain; however, we enjoyed speculating about Agrippa’s original intentions.
It was a long day that ended in rain and little sunlight, but we enjoyed all of the sites we saw! It was a great start to our journey through the imperial city of Rome!
Photos and most captions brought to you by Liz:
Modern Church with Ancient wall holding marble map of Rome.
Sometimes it's sunny in the Forum. Not always, but sometimes…
So many birds causing so much trouble for FSPers everywhere
Taking notes while some tourists creeps in the background
A presentation well done by E-man — with some help from his trusty helper Vanna White (aka Cara)
They say this road is named Tower Road but I can’t seem to find any tower. Well maybe if you looked behind you …
Don't feel too left out, Trajan's Column. We'll talk about you on Tuesday!
Guys over here!
Jin expertly leading us through the massive crowds at the Pantheon.