Sacred Area of Largo Argentina

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Sacred Area of Largo Argentina (Area Sacra di Largo Argentina), also called Largo di Torre Argentina in Italian, is an archaeological site located in Rome, Italy, that contains the remains of four Republican era temples. The site is named after the nearby Piazza del Largo Argentina, which is located on the edge of the Roman Forum. The four temples were built in the third century BCE, and were likely dedicated to the Roman gods Fortuna, Juturna, Lares, and Spes.

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The Sacred Area of Largo Argentina (Area Sacra di Largo Argentina), or the Largo di Torre Argentina, is a ancient Roman temple-precinct, situated between Campus Martius, the Tiber river and the ancient Walls of Rome. Its name, Argentina, derives from the palace tower in via del Sudario, once owned by Giovanni Bucardo, a native of Argentoratum (Strasbourg). The other tower, in the south-east corner, is called Torre del Papito, because it was owned by the Papareschi family.

Today the remains of the four temples, designated as A, B, C and D are visible. The entrances of the temples is oriented eastward. The latest excavation works by Sovrintendenza Capitolina (2011 and 2013 CE), confirmed the strongconnection between the cults and the presence of water and the consequent works to gather, channel and contain it. This section of Campus Martius had been occupied since the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, a time when the use of cappellaccio (Palatine tuff) was very common. It is shown by its presence in various structures trhroughout the site. A sacred premiter (temenos) was carved out and a sanctuary built which was dedicated to Feronia, the mother goddess and theincarnation of fecundity and fertility who was connected to the Sabines (Temple C). From the primitive sanctuary, between the end of the fourth and the beginning third centuries BCE, a temple on a high base made of square blocks of tuff was constructed, initially plastered and painted with vivid colours. It had columns in the front and impressive steps to which, in later times, a platform was added with the altar of Aulus Postumius Albinus who had been consul in 181 BCE.

Notable Structures

circa 350-250 BCE

Temple C
The "Temple C" is the oldest of the four temples in the sacred precinct, believed to have been built in the fourth or third century BCE and dedicated to Feronia, the Italic goddess of fertility. After a fire in 80 CE, the temple was restored and the mosaic flooring in the inner temple cella was added during this restoration. This mosaic features a black and white pattern.

circa 241 BCE

Temple A
The "Temple A", which was most likely dedicated to Juturna, was constructed by Gaius Lutatius Catulus in the third century BCE following his defeat of the Carthaginians in 241 BCE [See Note 1]. It was later rebuilt and converted in to a church and parts of it still survive today, of which the apse is the most prominent one.

Originally a smaller shrine was built in the middle the third century BCE in the north side. It was originally smaller (measuring 9.5 x 16 meters) than that which can be seen today. It was on a podium four meters high, covered with tuff slabs. A platform (similar and most likely contemporary to the one added to the Temple C) was added to it with an altar on top of it. It was widened in several phases before reaching its current architectural form comprising six columns on thefront and columns on all sides. The divinity could have been Juno Curitis, eponym of the town of Falerii, "remembered" in Rome (evocatio) following the defeat suffered by the Falisci in 241 BCE.

circa 180 BCE

Temple D
The "Temple D" is the largest of the four temples in the Largo Argentina precinct, believed to have been built in the second century BCE with later Republican era restorations, and was devoted to Lares Permarini (Lari Permalini), which are the Lares that protect sailors. However, only a small portion of the temple has been excavated as a street covers the majority of it. It was vowed by praetor Lucius Aemilius Regillus during a naval battle against Antiochus the Great in 190 BCE and dedicated by M. Aemilius Lepidus, when he was censor, on December 22, 179 BCE. The temple featured a dedicatory inscription in Saturnian metre on its doors. The temple is recorded as standing in the Porticus Minucia, its exact location is dependent on the location of that porticus.

circa 101 BCE

Temple B
The "Temple B", constructed in the plan of tholos (a circular temple) with six columns still remaining today, was built by Quintus Lutatius Catulus in 101 BCE in fulfillment of his vows at the Battle of Vercellae. It was dedicated to the Roman goddess Fortuna Huiusce Diei (literally meaning the Fortune of This Day). During excavations, a large statue of the goddess was discovered, which is now on display at the Centrale Montemartini of the Capitoline Museums. The statue is made of marble for the head, arms, and legs, but other parts of the statue, including those covered by the dress, were made of other materials, such as a wooden frame. This is known as an acrolithic statue.

circa 50 BCE

Station of the Water Administration
The "station of the water administration" (Statio Aquarum) or the office of the aquaducts (ufficio degli acquedotti) was situated between the "Temple A" (Temple of Juturna) and the Tholos Temple of Fortuna. During the later antiquity it was moved to the Foro Romano (Roman Forum) and was situated between the Fountain of Juturna and the temple of Vesta.

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