Roman Forum

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The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum, Italian: Foro Romano), is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations.

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Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum. For centuries the Forum was the center of day-to-day life in Rome: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.

Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. The Roman Kingdom's earliest shrines and temples were located on the south-eastern edge.

Other archaic shrines to the north-west, such as the Umbilicus Urbis and the Vulcanal (Shrine of Vulcan), developed into the Republic's formal Comitium (assembly area). This is where the Senate—as well as Republican government itself—began. The Senate House, government offices, tribunals, temples, memorials and statues gradually cluttered the area.

Brief History of the Forum Excavations

circa 1780 CE - Present

Although, the Forum was re-discovered in the Renaissance era, proper scientific interest in the area only began in the late 18th century CE. This led to the systematic explorations during the nineteenth century CE by illustrious archaeologists including Carlo Fea, Antonio Nibby, Pietro Rosa and Giuseppe Fiorelli. Earthworks brought back to light the ancient ground level of the Forum, a few meters beneath that of the surrounding city.

The most extensive excavations were undertaken in the early years of the twentieth century CE, directed by Giacomo Boni who explored the square, the Temple Caesar, the Lapis Niger, the Regia, the archaic necropolis, the Temple of Vesta with the house of the Vestal Virgins, the Spring of Juturna and the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua. His successor Alfonso Bartoli excavated the Basilica Aemilia and radically restored the Curia.

In subsequent decades explorations, though limited, continued in various areas including the Comitium, the Basilica Julia, the Arch of Augustus, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the area around the modern via della Consolazione, which was destroyed. Today the Roman Forum, though apparently a stretch of ruins, remains one of the most important places in the world for history and art.

Notable Structures

circa 900 BCE

Street of the Yoke-Makers
The Vicus Jugarius (Street of the Yoke-Makers), is Rome's ome of most ancient roads; its route, virtually unchanged over the centuries, was already a shortcut in the Regal period between the Forum valley, where it crosses the perpendicular Via Sacra, and the harbour on the left bank of the Tiber. The data collexted from the excavations have shown that the ancient road was used uninterruptedly until the modern period; along the riad is an unbroken sequence of frequentation layers consisting of simple beaten earth of cobblestones. Some structures next to the sides of the road survive as evidence of the city's growth.

The paved road visible today inside the archaeological area dates back to between the late fifth and early sixth century CE; this must be the original height of the road since there is a sewer of the archaic period imediately beneath the present surface. The first beaten earth surgaces that begin to raise the level of the road appear between the seventh and eighth century CE and are preserved in the exposed stratigraphy. In the early tenth century CE, when the early medieval building was constructed, the road surface was over a meter above the travertine floor of the late first century BCE in front of the short side of the Basilica Julia. Finally, a wall with two arches made of small tufa blocks with brick-undersides dating to the thirteenth century CE survives from the medieval period.

circa 900-700 BCE

Archaic Burial Ground
Numerous tombs dating back between circa ninth and seventh centuries BCE were excavated in this area in 1902 CE, with two types of burials; cremations and inhumations. The former, the oldest tombs, usually contained a funerary urn in the form of a hut with the remains of the deceased; in the inhumations the body was burid directly in the earth or in wooden or tufa coffins. The funerary equipment found in the tombs (clay and bucchero vessels, bronze jewellery) is now displayed in the Forum Antiquarium. Today this area is located between the Temple of Romulus and the Temple Faustina.

circa 720 BCE

Lapis Niger
The Lapis Niger is a black stone paving located in the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy. It is located in the Comitium, the area where the Roman Senate would meet, and is thought to be one of the oldest known parts of the Forum. The name "Lapis Niger" means "Black Stone" in Latin. The area of the Lapis Niger is thought to have been used for a variety of purposes throughout Roman history, including as a marker of the boundaries of the city and as a sacred site.

The stone, inscribed with Latin text, was discovered among the archaic remainsbut the meaning of the inscription is unclear. Some scholars believe that it may have served as a tombstone or a marker of a burial site, while others think it may have been used for ritual purposes. Despite its age and historical significance, the Lapis Niger is not well-known outside of academic circles. Some have even suggested it as the burial site of Romulus, the founder of Rome.

circa 720 BCE

Partly cut in to the rock, partly built from tufa blocks, the monument traditionally known as the Volcanal, measuring approx. 3 x 4 meters, was believedto be the sacred space hosting the altar dedicated to Vulcan by Titus Tatius (the mythicalking of the Sabines), in existence from the city's origins. It has recently been suggested that the remains belong to the altarof Saturn, which Latin authors describe as standing in front of the Temple ofSaturn, at the bottom of the slope leading up to the Capitoline Hill.

circa 700 BCE

The Regia was a building in Ancient Rome located on the Via Sacra at the heart of the Roman Forum. It served as the residence of Rome's kings and later as the office of the pontifex maximus, the highest religious official in Rome. It was situated between the Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Divus Julius, and the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. Only the foundations of the Republican and Imperial versions of the Regia remain, as it was destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history. Some studies suggest that the Republican Regia may have had a different purpose based on the presence of multiple layers of similar buildings with more regular features.

circa 700 BCE

Mamertine Prison
The Mamertine Prison was in use until the fourth century CE and in the sixteenth century the church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami (inspect) was built on top of the Mamertine prison. The name Mamertine is probably derived from the Latin "Mamertinus", referring to the god of war Mars and his nearby altar. According to legend, the apostles Peter and Paul were also imprisoned in this prison, although there is no real evidence for this. In the time of ancient Rome (between 600 and 500 BCE) the little jail cell was known as the Tullianum and was actually constructed as a cistern for a spring in the floor of what would become one of the cells.

circa 600 BCE

Spring and Shrine of Juturna
The Lacus Iuturnae, also known as the Lacus Juturnae or Spring of Juturna, is a pool built by the Romans in the Roman Forum near a spring or well. It was part of a shrine dedicated to the water nymph Juturna, and the name Lacus Iuturnae refers to both the spring and the shrine, which are located near the pool. The shrine and fountain named after Juturna, which collected the waters of a spring, dates to the archaic period (circa 600 BCE). According to the legend Castor and Pollus, the divine twins horsemen stopped to water their horses while passing through the city, and where they announced Roman victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus, 495 BCE. The Lacus Iuturnae spring was used by the Vestal Virgins during the Roman Empire for their religious ceremonies when another spring in the city had dried up. The water at this spring was believed to have healing properties and the elderly and sick would go there with offerings in the hope that the goddess Juturna would cure their ailments.

circa 550 BCE

Cloaca Maxima
The Cloaca Maxima ("greatest sewer") of Rome was one of the earliest sewage systems in the world. Its name comes from the Roman goddess Cloacina. It was built either during the Roman Kingdom period or in early Republican era in Ancient Rome to drain marshes and remove waste from the city. The effluent was carried to the River Tiber, which ran alongside the city. The sewer started at the Forum of Augustus and ended at the Ponte Rotto and Ponte Palatino (Palatine bridge). originally, it began as an open air canal but was expanded and renovated by Agrippa over time. By the first century CE all eleven Roman aqueducts were connected to the sewer. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the sewer continued to be used, even becoming a tourist attraction in the 1800s.

circa 500 BCE

Forum Square
The large paved square at the centre of the Forum, the main space used for public asseblies, remained almost empty of buildings throughout the Republican period (fifth till first century BCE). During the empire-period, as its importance decreased with the opening of the imperial Forums, monuments ofvarious types and sizes were built in the area surrounding the "Republican Forum". The paving, reconstructed several times over the centuries,originally consisted of travertine slabs held together with lead grapples; the remains of a surviving inscription probably refer to restoration of the paving carried out under Augustus (27 BCE till 14 CE) by the praetor Lucius Naevius Surdinus. The rectangular base at the center incorporating three perforated travertine blocks belongs to the Equus Domitiani the equestrian statue celebrating Domitian's victory (81-96 CE) over the Germani tribes. As the poet Statius noted, it faces the Temple of Caesar.

The fenced off rectangular area to the north, unpaved even in ancient times, is the Garden of Marsyas. A vine, a fig tree and an olive tree have been replanted here; there trees were sacred to the Romans and acoording to Pliny the Elder grew in the western corner of the square, maybe at the base of the Equus Constantini, a statue of the emperor Constantine on horse-back. In the vicinity some square holes dating to the period of Julius Caesar probably belong to the network of tunnels which extended beneath the central square.

circa 500 BCE

Via Sacra
The Via Sacra, literally meaning the Sacred Way, is a famous street located in Rome, Italy. It was the main street of ancient Rome and was used for triumphal processions, public ceremonies, and other important events. The Via Sacra begins at the Capitoline Hill, passing through the Roman Forum and leads to the Colosseum and other important landmarks along the way. The street is lined with ancient ruins and monuments.

The Via Sacra has a long and rich history, and it has played a significant role in the development of Roman culture and civilization. The street was originally built in the fifth or fourth century BCE, and it was used for various public events and ceremonies throughout the history of Rome. The Via Sacra was the site of many important events in Roman history, such as the triumphal processions of Roman generals and the triumphal entry of the Emperor Claudius into Rome.

circa 497 BCE

Temple of Saturn
The Temple of Saturn is the oldest sacred place in Rome, after the Temples of Vesta and Jupiter. It was rebuilt in 42 BCE and again, in the fourth century CE, by the senate and people of Rome, as recorded on the architrave. The surviving Ionic columns, with their scrolled volutes, date from this period. Suetonius in his book Life of Augustus (XXIX. 4-5), mentions that the reconstruction of the temple was undertaken by Lucius Munatius Plancus, at the encouragement of Augustus, who "often urged other prominent men to adorn the city with new monuments or to restore and embellish old ones, each according to his means".

circa 495 BCE

Temple of Castor and Pollux
The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Tempio dei Dioscuri) in the Roman Forum, Rome, was originally built in 484 BCE and rebuilt by Tiberius in 6 CE. Only three columns and part of the architrave stand today. The Temple of Castor and Pollux frequently served as a meeting place for the Senate and was where the standards of weights and measures were kept. There was a high podium, with stairs leading down to a rostra and, in the intercolumniations at the base, a series of chambers (loculi). Originally, the front of the podium was designed to provide a tribunal or platform for speaking; but, by the early third century, the lateral stairs had been replaced by a single flight in front. Clodius completely demolished the steps, effectively transforming it into a fortress.

circa 350 BCE

Temple of Concord
The Temple of Concordia (Aedes Concordiae), dedicated in 367 BCE to commemorate the reconciliation between patricians and plebians, was rebuilt in 121 BCE to foster harmony after the murder of Gracchus. It was restored during the reign of Augustus by Tiberius, who probably rededicated the Temple in 12 CE. The restoration was distinguished by its opulent marble and rich architectural ornamentation. In the cella, which is the central chamber or sanctuary of a temple, a row of Corinthian columns, the capitals of which had pairs of leaping rams in place of the corner volutes, was raised on a continuous plinth projecting from the wall, which divided the cella into bays, each containing a niche. Such was the wealth of fine Greek sculpture, paintings, and other works of art that the Temple seems to have been a museum. It also was used for meetings of the Senate, especially in times of civil disturbance.

circa 179 BCE

Basilica Aemilia
The Basilica Aemilia (Basilica Emilia) Erected in 179 BCE by the censors Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (after whom the basilica is named) and Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, completely rebuilt over two decades and dedicated in 34 BCE, restored after a fire by Augustus in 14 BCE, and then again in 22 CE on its two-hundredth anniversary, the Basilica Aemilia was considered by Pliny to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Rome. It was a place for business and, in the porticus of Gaius and Lucius (the grandsons of Augustus) fronting the Forum, there were the Tabernae Novae (New Shops). On the colored marble floor one still can see the the stains of bronze coins.

circa 90 BCE

Portico of Gaius and Lucius Caesar
The portico, along with the southern tabernae (shops), formed part of the Basilica Emilia. Constructed along the Via Sacra, it was raised a few steps from the street level. Originally it was a two-story arched and columned structure. Several shops were situated inside the portico, known as tabernae nova, commercial shops on both floors. These shops were looted in the March of 44 BCE for the furniture items and anything else that would burn for the pire of Caesar's cremation. The columns standing today date back to a reconstruction of the Basilica after a fire (circa 410 CE). These granite columns belong to a group of sixteen that were re-erected and do not stand in their locations. A large building was constructed over this part of the basilica, shops and colonnade in the sixth century CE, which was destroyed in 847 CE earthquake.

circa 75 BCE

House of Marcus Aemilius Scaurus
The up-scale residential structure was constructed by Marcus Aemilius Scaurus (circa 159 – 89 BCE), a Roman statesman who served as consul in 115 BCE, after a fire destroyed the previous building on the site around year 75 BCE. This private residential complex dates back to the late-republican period. An underground area with a small room containing a lararium (shrine of the household god) and additional small rooms constructed with opus reticulatum and a basic travertine floor, likely intended for slaves. Other rooms in the spa area of the house have black and white mosaic flooring.

circa 50 BCE

This is the podium from which orators addressed the people; the name comes from the rostra (rams) of the Latin ships, captured by the Romans at the Battle of Antium in 338 BCE, with which the monument was decorated. Though, the original Rostra was built as early as the sixth century BCE, it was replaced and enlarged a number of times but remained in the same site for centuries. Julius Caesar had the rostra moved and rebuilt at its current location from the nearby Comitium; it was later enlarged by Augustus. The monument has a curved part made of tuff blocks, clad in marble panels. The holes which supported the rostra can be seen on the front. The monument had a platform accessed from a staircase on the side facing the capitoline hill.

This rostra was also called the Rostra Vandalica (rostrum of vandals) as in 470 CE, a piece was added to the front right side of the rostra, in memory of the victory of a Roman army against the Vandals.

circa 46 BCE

Basilica Julia
The Basilica Julia (Basilica Giulia) Named after Julius Caesar, who dedicated it in 46 BCE from the spoils of the Gallic War, the Basilica Julia was completed by Augustus but burned shortly afterward and was not rededicated for another twenty years, in 12 CE. It again was rebuilt by Diocletian after the fire of 283 CE and later restored by Gabinus Vettius Probianus, urban prefect in 416 CE, who embellished the interior with statues by Polyclitus, Praxiteles, and Timarchus (his son). The Basilica housed the civil law courts and tabernae provided space for government offices and banking. In the first century CE, it also was used for sessions of the Centumviri (Court of the Hundred), who presided over matters of inheritance. In his Epistles, Pliny the Younger describes the scene as he pleaded for Attia Viriola, whose 80-year-old father has disinherited her within days of taking a new wife (VI.33).

circa 40 BCE

Curia Julia
The Curia Julia Begun by Julius Caesar to replace the old Curia Hostilia, which had burned (along with the body of Clodius Pulcher) in riots in 52 BCE, the new Senate House was completed in 29 BCE by Octavian who, two years later, would be given the title of Augustus (Augustus, Res Gestae, XIX; Dio, Roman History, LI.22.1). The Curia Julia may have been afflicted by the Neronian fire of 64 CE, the fire of 69 CE on the Capitoline Hill, or a fire in 80 CE during the reign of Titus. Whatever damage was sustained, it was restored by Domitian in 94 CE and, after another disastrous fire in 283 CE, completely rebuilt to the same dimensions by Diocletian.

Today the Curia Julia houses a number of carved reliefs, including

circa 29 BCE

Temple of Deified Julius Caesar
Caesar was asssssinated in 44 BCE in the Curia of Pompey in the Campus Martius and was cremated in the Forum, in front of the Regia. The Roman people gathered tables, chairs and any other type of wood that they found, and lit the fire. Later on a small altar was built on the site. Later on Augustus raised a temple (Tempio del Divo Giulio), dedicated in 29 BCE. Set on a high podium with six columns at the front, it was decorated with the rostra taken from the ships of Anthony and Cleopatra captured by Augustus, two years earlier, at the Battle of Actium. The altar, in the hemicycle of the podium, replaced the commemorative column. Staircases at the sides led to the interior of the building, of which only the cement core survives today. Today the remains of a low altar (inspect), called the Alter of Caesar (Ara di Cesare) mark the site of Caesar's cremation.

circa 27-14 BCE

Milliarium Aurem
The scarce marble remains with a palmette decoration belong to a monument known as the Milliarium Aurem (Golden Mile), erected by Augustus around year 20 BCE when he became the caretaker of roads (curator viarum), or probably during his reign of the (27 BCE - 14 CE). The name "Miliarium Aureum" means the "Golden Milestone" in Latin, and it was so named because it was made of gilded bronze and was located in the center of Rome, near the Roman Forum. It consisted of a large column (1.2 meters in diameter), on which the distances between Rome and the provinces of the Empire calculated in miles from the gates in the Servian Walls were marked in gold letters. The Miliarium Aureum served as a reference point for all Roman roads, and it was used to measure the distances between Rome and other cities.

circa 20 BCE

Lacus Curtius
The "Lacus Curtius" is the name given to the low paved area at the center of which a circular altar (inspect) can be seen. The name is explained by the presence of a swamp in ancient times, drained only during the time of Augustus. According to legend, a noble Roman named Marcus Curtius, depicted on a marble relief from the first century BCE (a cast can be seen at the edge of the basin), sacrificed himself by leaping in to the swamp at the wishes of an oracle.

circa 19 BCE

Arch of Augustus
The arch, built by Augustus in 19 BCE, was placed between the temple of Castor and Pollux and the Temple of Divius Julius. The Travertine paved floor and some columns and capitals in Lunense marble of Doric and Corinthian order are still in situ. The arch was represented on a coin, allowing a reconstruction of the central arch and the two lateral passages with triangular tympana.

circa 15 BCE

Remains of the Augustan Comitium
The Comitium (Comizio), was a sacred open-air gathering place in ancient Rome where people would assemble for religious and prophetic purposes. It got its name from the Latin term for "assembly" and was situated in the northwest section of the Roman Forum. Before the modern excavations started and the area was covered with a shed for protection, the only visible remains of the "comitium" and the "lapis niger" were a few low standing stones and black-stone slabs that were installed during the reign of emperor Augustus. The comitium of Augustus covered the ancient archaic structures underneath it. Among other ancient-archaic monuments the paving also covered a tomb belonging to an unknown individual. Together with the associated Vulcanal (a sanctuary to Vulcan) it constitutes the only surviving remnants of the old Comitium, an early assembly area that preceded the Forum and is thought to derive from an archaic cult site of the seventh or eighth century BCE.

circa 2 BCE

Large Dedicatory Inscription of Lucius Caesar
This dedicatory inscription most likely comes from the "Parthian Arch", today placed at the south-eastern corner of the Basilica Aemilia. The arch was constructed in 19 BCE to celebrate the return of eagle insignia conquered in 53 BCE by the Parthians during the Battle of Carre against the legions commanded by Crassus. This arch was later renamed and rededicated to the two brothers (Guis and Lucius Caesar) after their deaths. The Parthian Arch spanned the Via Sacra between this Portico and the Temple of Divus Julius. The inscription recounts the dedication of 2 BCE of the Senate in honor of "Lucius Caesar, [adopted] son of Augustus" and future successor of the latter.

circa 60 CE

Neronian-Era Foundations
The concrete foundations that run from the Forum around the corner towards the Palatine, alongside the Arch of Titus, probably pertain to the enormous portico, that according to the ancient sources, Nero had constructed as the vestibule of his Domus Aurea. It extended for a total length of approx. three hundred meters from the Forum to the area of the Temple of Venus and Roma, and enclosed the colossal statue of Nero, 120 feet (approx 35 meters) high, that rose in the location where the temple later was built.

circa 70 CE

Vespasian Warehouse
After the fire of 64 CE, the slopes of the Palatine became a commercial area. It was probably Vespasian who built a vast building here supported by pillars, perhaps used a warehouse for imperial good. A few years later Domitian turned Vespasian's warehouse (horrea Vespasiani) in to a shopping center, perhaps for foodstuffs, with numerous shops on two levels, arranged around two identical courtyards. Other shops faced on to the external porticoes.

circa 79 CE

Temple of Vespasian and Titus
The Temple of Vespasian and Titus Begun by Titus after the death of his father Vespasian in 79 CE, the Temple of Vespasian was completed by his brother Domitian when Titus, himself, died two years later. Three fluted columns from the southeast corner of the pronaos still carry part of the entablature, the frieze of which was elaborately decorated with implements of sacrifice and bucrania (ox skulls), which were believed to ward off evil. The architrave surmounting the Corinthian capitals show the last few letters of an inscription, [R]ESTITVER[UNT] (they restored), commemorating the restoration of the temple by Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla. It still could be read in the eighth century, when it was recorded in the itinerary of a visiting monk from the monastery at Einsiedeln.

circa 80 CE

The Tabularium was a public records office in ancient Rome, located within the Roman Forum. It was built in the early first century BCE to house the official records of the Roman Republic, including the public laws, decrees, and other important documents. The Tabularium was a large and impressive building, with a portico supported by columns and a second story that housed the records. It was an important center of public administration in Rome and played a significant role in the governance of the Roman Republic. The tabularium underwent major changes in the Flavian-Trajanic period (fromthe late first to the early second century CE), probably when themint was moved else-where. The corridor below the arcade gallery became a passageway for a water conduit, and the rooms on the north-east side that are thought to have housed the mint were abandoned and pergaps filled with earth and rubble. During the Same period, the stairway between the Forum and the Temple of Veiovis became unserviceable because its entrance was cut off by the podium of the Temple of Vespasian, which abutted on the Tabularium. As a result, only the upper flight of stairs survives.

circa 81 CE

Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus (Arcus Titi) Situated at the highest point of the Via Sacra, the Arch of Titus was erected by Domitian sometime after the death of his brother in 81 CE, commemorating the capture of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 CE. It was after this campaign, when Titus was relaxing at Caesarea Philippi, that he fell in love with Berenice, the daughter of Herod Agrippa I. When she and her brother Herod Agrippa II visited Rome in about 75 CE, Titus lived openly with her (Dio, LXV.15.3-4). Four years later, Titus succeeded to throne at the death of his father Vespasian and was obliged to give up Berenice, which was "painful for both of them" (Suetonius, VII.2). Berenice and Agrippa had tried to dissuade the Jews from rebelling, and it is before them that Paul pleaded his defense of Christianity in Acts: 25-26.

circa 110 CE

House of the Vestals
The House of the Vestal Virgins (Casa delle Vestali), also known as the Atrium of Vesta (Atrium Vestae) together with the Temple of Vesta and other structures, was begun by Domitian and completed by Trajan about 113 CE. The complex is found within the Roman Forum, between the Regia and the Palatine Hill. The development of the complex grew throughout the thousand years the Vestals virgins remained. The first house was built at the foot of the Palatine Hill, containing the Temple of Vesta, as well as sleeping quarters, however, it was destroyed in 64 CE due to a fire. The House of Vestals was an important part of Roman culture, so it was rebuilt several times throughout the Empire.

circa 130 CE

It was most likely a "public shrine" situated where the Via Sacra (the Sacred Way) intersects a small road, called the Vicus Vestae. Probably dedicated to the Lares Praestites (the spirits that protected the city of Rome), it was a compitum (a cross-roads shrine), placed at intersections of streets. The Senate ordered the construction of the shrine using public funds during Hadrian's reign, and it is located in the Roman Forum in Rome. This can be inferred from the brick stamps.

circa 141 CE

Temple of Venus and Roma
The Temple of Venus and Roma (Tempio di Venere e Roma) is thought to have been the largest temple in Ancient Rome. Located on the Velian Hill, between the eastern edge of the Forum Romanum and the Colosseum, in Rome, it was dedicated to the goddesses Venus Felix ("Venus the Bringer of Good Fortune") and Roma Aeterna ("Eternal Rome"). The building was the creation of the emperor Hadrian and construction began in 121 CE. It was officially inaugurated by Hadrian in 135 CE, and finished in 141 CE under Antoninus Pius. Damaged by fire in 307 CE, it was restored with alterations by the emperor Maxentius.

circa 141 CE

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was built by Antoninus Pius on the north side of the Via Sacra at the entrance to the forum, just east of the basilica Aemilia, in honour of his deified wife, the empress Faustina, who died in 141 CE. After the death of Antoninus himself in 161, the temple was dedicated to both together. The inscription on the architrave records the first dedication, and that added afterwards on the frieze records the second. In consequence of this double dedication the proper name of the temple was Templum d. Antonini et d. Faustinae.

circa 191 CE

Temple of Vesta
Partially reconstructed in the twentieth century CE, the temple is linked to one of the Rome's most ancient and most important cults. Here the Vestals Virgins tended the sacred fire which was to burn perpetually as a symbol of city's life force. Men, with the exception of Pontifex Maximus, were severly prohibited from entering the temple. Today all that remains of the temple is the podium on which the collumns stood; the circular monument was reconstructed on several occassions. The current remains date to the period of Septimius Severus, who restored the building after the fire in 191 CE.

circa 203 CE

Arch of Septimius Severus
The Arch of Septimius Severus was built in 203 CE to celebrate the victory over the Parthians. The triple triumphal arch was one of the most richly decorated of its type and even today, although badly damaged, it stands in the Forum Romanum as a lasting and imposing monument to Roman vanity. The inscription on the attic facade, originally with gilded bronze lettering, is a dedication to Septimius Severus and his two sons Caracalla and Geta who 'restored the Republic and expanded the dominion of the Roman people'.

circa 225 CE

Navel of the City of Rome
The Navel of the City of Rome (Umbilicus urbis Romae), described in some sources as the Mundus, this was believed to be the symbolic center of the city (omphalos), in accordance with a Greek concept; it was also the place where the world of the living came in to contact with the underworld through a crack in the ground. It is a round brick structure with a small door facing west. The current structure dates back to the early third century CE during the Severan period; reusing older materials.

circa 250 CE

Honorary Bases
The seven brick column bases of the honorary columns (Basi Onorarie), originally clad in marble, lined upon the south side of the square supported columns dedicated to illustrious individuals and date to the late empire (from the third century CE onward); unfortunately the disappearance of the dedicatory inscriptions makes it impossible to identify them. Two of the bases, on the eastern end, were restored in the late nineteenth century CE with grey granite and white marble columns recovered in the vicinity.

circa 290/310 CE

Decennalia Base
The "decennalia base", carved out of marble as a plinth for a column, is the only preserved part of the "Five-Column Monument". The marble-plinth derives its name from the decennalia carving on one of its facades. Discovered in 1547 CE, the square column-base is carved with ceremonial and ritual scenes on all four sides. Other than the decennalia inscription, scholars vary in the order and descriptions of the carved scenes. Collectively the reliefs depict the rituals associated with renewing the Tetrarchic rulers' ten-year reign. Some experts and scholars have noted that the panel reliefs appear to show a progression in which the animals are being taken to be sacrificed, with the imperial group also moving towards the altar in the scene.

circa 300 CE

Shops of the Basilica Aemilia
The Basilica Aemilia faces the Forum with a double portico (portico of Gaius and Lucius Caesar); the three granite columns were raised during the reconstruction work in the late empire period. Behind the portico are a number of shops (inspect) in tuff blocks, forming two groups of six around the entrance to the Basilica. These are the tabernae novae, pre-dating the basilica and incorporated in to it.

circa 306/312 CE

Base of the Maxentian Statue of Mars
The base (inspect) blongs to a statue dedicated to the god "Mars and the founders of the eternal city of Rome", by the emperor Maxentius (circa 306-312 CE). Later on, during the Constantinian era (circa 306-337 CE), the name of Maxentius was removed. Today it stands on a base of bricks, directly in front of the eastern facade of the Septimius Severus' triumphal arch.

circa 307 CE

Temple of Romulus
On the basis of a depiction on a coin this building, unusual in shape for Roman architecture, is identified as the temple built by the emperor Maxentius in 307 CE in honour of his son who died in childhood. The circular building is flanked by two apsidal halls opening on to the front with little porticoes decorated with porphyry columns. The bronze door is original and the lock still works. Pope Felix V turned the monument in to the vestibule of the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian but the entrance from the Forum side was reopened in 1879 CE.

circa 312 CE

Basilica of Maxentius
The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, then known as the New Basilica (Basilica Nova), was emblematic within the building programme of the emperor Maxentius (306–312 CE). Typologically, the building exploited several characteristics of Roman architecture (bath buildings, basilica halls, etc.), reinterpreting and combining them in a successful and original structural whole. The enormous potential offered by the extreme sophistication of Roman imperial building techniques was exploited to create the largest building covered with a system of vaults in the entire empire.

circa 315 CE

Triumphal Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine, erected in circa 315 CE, stands in Rome and commemorates Roman Emperor Constantine's victory over the Roman tyrant Maxentius on 28th October 312 CE at the battle of Milvian Bridge in Rome. It is the largest surviving Roman triumphal arch and the last great monument of Imperial Rome. The arch was dedicated on 25th July 315 CE on the 10th anniversary of Constantine's reign (Decennalia) and stood on Rome's triumphal route. The monument is an imposing 21 metres high and 25.6 meters wide rectangular block of grey and white Proconnesian marble consisting of three separate arches.

circa 345 CE

Base of an Equestrian Statue of Constantius II
The monument, of which only the stone-base survives today, was installed about a year after the battle of Mursa and the initial triumph over Magnentius, with an inscription on the base that recognized Constantius II as the "Restitutori Urbis Romae" (Restorer of the city of Rome). The urban prefect Neratius Cerealis, who held office between September and December 352 CE, financed the placement of this equestrian statue of Constantius II on the Via Sacra near the Senate-house (Curia Julia), opposite to one of his father. The stone-block base of the, now lost, equestrian statue bears a (inscription of) dedication to emperor Constantius II by the prefect of Rome Naeratius Cerealis.

circa 350 CE

Portico Dii Consentes
Reconstructed in the mid nineteenth century CE with ancient materials recovered from excavations, the Portico Dii Consentes (meaning the Portico of the Harmonious Gods) has an unusual shape; it consists of twelve columns with the same number of rooms behind them (today only seven of these rooms have survived), each dedicated to one of the Olympian gods. The building already existed in the first century BCE but was rearranged several times with the remains visible today dating back to the first century CE. Though the inscription records works undertaken by the Prefect of Rome Vettius Agorius Pretestatus, one of the last opponents of Christianity who lived in the fourth century CE.

circa 450 CE

Santa Maria Antiqua
The Santa Maria Antiqua, located at the base of the Palatine Hill in the Roman Forum, the sixth-century church is one of the earliest surviving Christian monuments in Rome. The church was adapted from an Imperial Roman building dating to the reign of Domitian in the first century CE. Santa Maria Antiqua contains a unique collection of wall paintings spanning a period from the sixth - late eighth century; they are of utmost importance for understanding the development of early medieval and Byzantine art. Santa Maria Antiqua was abandoned in the ninth century CE and was subsequently buried during an earthquake. The church was rediscovered in 1900s and restored.

circa 608 CE

Column of Phocas
The Column of Phocas was the last monument to be built in the Roman Forum, the inscription on the pedestal of the column indicates that the gilded statue on top was dedicated in 608 CE by Smaragdus, the exarch (governor) of Italy, to the Byzantine emperor Phocas. The fluted marble column and the corinthian capital were appropriated from other monuments, the high plinth on which they stand originally used to suppoet the honorary column to Diocletian.

circa 1100-1400 CE

Medieval Portico
The remains of this small structure consisting of brick pillars and arches belong to a privated house that opened on to the street in the Middle Ages, when the ground level throughout the area was much higher, as be seen from the foundations of the portico.


The three small rooms opening on to a corridor with walls made of large tufa blocks and travertine door and window frames are generally ascribed to a carcer (prison); this is an error as tradition attests the existence of only one prison in Rome, the Tullianum on the slopes of the Capitoline Hill. Thought by some to be a brothel, these are more likely the service rooms of a Roman house, perhaps used as a cellar or to house slaves.


Shrine of Venus Cloacina
The shrine base is placed above a tuff structure set in to the ground, located where the Cloaca Maxima enters the Forum. This shrine was dedicated to Venus Cloacina, containing two statues with the symbols of Venus. According to tradition the young Virginia was murdered here by her brother to prevent her falling in to the hands of the decemvir Appius Claudius. The shrine was also used for the ritual purifications of the Roman and Sabine armies.


Remains of an Earlier Construction of Basilica Aemilia
The scant remains of an earlier setting of the Basilica Aemilia can be seen under a modern shelter immediately to the south-east of the Curia Julia. The remains consist of a wall foundation and column footings made from blocks of Grotta Oscura tufa, some which have visible quarry marks. These foundations show that in its first phase the basilica had a central nave and two aisles. The colonnades of the side-aisles were on the same alignment as those of the later building, but in this period the central nave had not yet been widened.


Statio Aquarum
The Statio Aquarum (station of the water works), or the office of the aqueducts (ufficio degli acquedotti) was situated between the Spring of Juturna (south-west), Temple of Vesta (north-east) and the House of the Vestals (south-east). The current ruins of the "office" belong to several phases of reconstructions, dating as far back as to the late Republican era to the time of emperor Constantine. The structure has been identified thanks to the discovey of two inscriptions found during the excavations. One of the inscriptions describes the dedication of a statue to Constantine by Flavio Mesio Egnazio Lolliano, the curator aquarum et minuciae (manager of water and small things). The second inscriptions describes establishment of his office here in 328 CE.

In ancient times the statio aquarum was located in the sacred area of ​​Largo Argentina.

During the Republic period this area was occupied by tabernae (shops), built in the Opus incertum. The ramp leading up to the Palatine Hill, once started from here. The structure was entirely rebuilt in brick and paved with a black and white mosaic during the Constantinian period. The office of the aqueducts was decorated with several statues, including that of Aesculapius (still in-situ) and another of Apollo now displayed at the Antiquarium Forense.


Domus Publica
The Domus Publica (literally meaning the State House) was the official residence of the Pontifex Maximus near the Regia. Today not much survives of the structure.

The site was originally occupied by just a group of basic huts, then later a larger rectangular building was built here made of primitive materials like interlaced wood branches, reeds, and daub. Around the year 525 BCE, it was rebuilt as a long rectangular structure with walls made of soft tufa stone and served as the palace residence for the king. However, after the Romans overthrew the last king in 509 BCE and established the republic, the Pontifex Maximus took over the building and used it for religious purposes for the Vestal cult. The majority of the ruins that are visible today date to the post-12 BCE era, as the House of the Vestals was expanded and rebuilt on top of the original structure multiple times over the years.

Notable Reliefs


Plutei of Trajan: Institution of Alimenta
The relief depicts emperor Trajan in the Forum Romanum, where he institutes a charitable organisation for orphans (known as the alimenta). Trajan is seated on a podium in the middle of the Forum, together with a personification of Italia carrying a child on her arm. In the background again a number of notable structures from the antiquity are carved including; the speakers' platform in front of the Temple of Divus Julius; the Arch of Augustus; the Temple of Castor and Pollux; the Vicus Tuscus; the Basilica Julia; the Ficus Ruminalis and the statue of Marsyas.


Plutei of Trajan: Destruction of Debt Records
The relief depicts a group of attendants, in the presence of the emperor Trajan (or probably Hadrian in 118 CE), preparing to destroy the records of the debts incurred by the Roman citizens to pay taxes, cancelled after the conquest of Dacia (circa 105 CE). The wooden tablets with the tax records are carried forth and burned in the presence of the emperor, who is standing in front of the Rostra. Part of the carving on the right side is missing. The relief contains the carving of notable structures in the background; including the Ficus Ruminalis and the statue of Marsyas; the Basilica Julia; the Temple of Saturn; the Temple of Vespasian and Titus; the Rostra; and the missing part most likely depicted the Temple of Concord.

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