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Overview of the Richest Archaeological Area in the World: the Roman Forum


Roma016Foro_Romano  The area that goes from Venice Square, modern city center of Rome to the Circus Maximus through the Colosseum is so rich in terms of historic narrative and material evidence that an encyclopeadia of thousands of pages would be barely enough to describe its importance in the ancient world.

My Tours In Rome covers this area during the day and at night as well, and we think that a general overview of the ancient city of Rome can help understand how hills and planes played a pivotal role in defining the space that the Romans used many centuries ago.

LEARN FIRST WHAT THE WORD “FORUM” MEANS

The key is in the words ! That’s why Latin is a good tool to guide the visitor in the footsteps of the Romans. Forum means “outside” , and by definition it refers to the area that is located at the bottom of the first residential hill occupied by the Romans : the Palatine Hill. Therefore, “Forum” means “outside of the Palatine Hill. The area of the Forum that was leveled up in order to house the first cemetery in ancient Rome dates back to the 7th century BCE when Rome was just founded and was an Etruscan daomain. After the expulsion of the Etruscan kings from Rome, the area of the necropolis is converted into a square where public activities are held: the Senate is going to be built, the first basilicas began running trials and indoor markets and honorary columns are erected to celebrate the expansion of Rome in the Mediterranean sea.

THE ARCH OF SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS

This giant arch was erected by the Senate to commemorate the victory of Severus against the Parthians in the third century CE. The monument was topped by bronzed statues of the imperial family among which the young Caracalla, who succeded his father. The arch is an example of late Roman art for the scultpural technique used to render the representation of the military campaign of Severus.

THE MONUMENT DEDICATED TO JULIUS CAESAR

Few people know that Augustus, adopted son of Caesar and first emperor of Rome  dedicated the altar where the body of his father was cremated to the deification of Caesar in order to claim his descendance from a divinity. Still today Romans and non-Romans bring flowers to that altar where the most brilliant general of the Roman army was cremated to show love, admiration and respect for Julius Caesar.

WHAT ABOUT WOMEN IN THE ROMAN FORUM ?

Yes, there were women in ancient Rome and the ones of the Forum were called priestesses of Vesta. Vesta was the goddess of the harth and was one of the most popular deity in ancient Rome. The temple of Vesta still partially stands after the restorantion of Tiberius and is located near the arch of Titus.

THE ARCH OF TITUS

Titus, the emperor who completed the construction of the Colosseum, was deified after his death and the Senate dedicated an arch to him commemorating his victorious conquest of Jerusalem and the looting of the Menorah from the Jerusalem’s temple.

WAS THE COLOSSEUM ALWAYS LIKE THAT?

Very interesting question. Sufficit to say that before the Colosseum that area of the Forum was expropriated by Nero who built his mansion over the ashes of the Roman houses and that the Colosseum was once the lake in the middle of his estate. After his death in 69 AD, the Flavian family built the Colosseum as propagandistic act of restituition of the land that was public domain but that was misused by Nero. Although the Colosseum was built after having drained the water from Nero’s lake, still today archaeologists have hard time finding out how it was really built.

These fascinating mysteries of the Roman engineering should be an extra reason for you to catapult yourself to Rome ! Do not miss out our tours !


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