Imperial Complex of Emperor Maxentius

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The term "Imperial Complex of Emperor Maxentius" generally refers to a group of buildings and structures associated with the Roman Emperor Maxentius, who ruled from 306 to 312 CE. Three prominent elements of this complex are the Circus of Maxentius, the Mausoleum of Maxentius and the residential villa of Maxentius. These structures are located along the Via Appia in Rome and are notable for their architectural significance and historical context.

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While the Circus of Maxentius and the Mausoleum have been extensively studied, excavated, and consolidated, less scrutiny has been given to the remains of the final element of the emperor's tripartite building program on the Via Appia, the palace proper

Notable Archaeological Structures

circa 310 CE

Mausoleum of Romulus
The tomb of Valerius Romulus, son of the Caesar and later usurper Maxentius and of Valeria Maximilla (daughter of Emperor Galerius), is situated directly adjacent to the ancient Appian Way (Via Appia). It was part of the larger imperial complex built by the emperor Maxentius.

circa 310 CE

Circus of Maxentius
Built by Emperor Maxentius between 306 and 312 CE, the Circus of Maxentius stands as a well-preserved ancient Roman circus. Situated along Via Appia, one of the earliest and strategically significant Roman roads, it was part of a larger complex of structures. Games and races were organized in honor of Maxentius' son.

Ranking second in size only to the Circus Maximus in Rome, the Circus of Maxentius was constructed using concrete covered with opus vittatum, featuring parallel horizontal layers of tuff blocks alternating with bricks. With dimensions of 513 meters in length and 91 meters in width, it could accommodate up to 10,000 spectators. The "spina," a barrier dividing the circus and forming a circular track, extended 1000 Roman feet (296 meters) and was adorned with marble cladding.

circa 310 CE

Palace of Maxentius
The palatial villa of Maxentius was most likely constructed on the remains of an earlier residental structure, probably belonging to Herodes Atticus, who transformed and embellished an earlier republican period villa. The palace area of the Villa of Maxentius complex therefore preserves an invaluable cross-section of occupational strata and construction phases over a minimum of four centuries of Roman history. As is the case with the neighbourign structures of circus and imperial mausoleum, the walls of the imperial palace standing at an average preserved height of 2 meters, were also constructed in opus vittatum.

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