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- Samuel Ball Platner, Thomas Ashby, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, Preface
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The Roman Forum and Palatine Davico. Ancient and modern Rome. A — Reconstruction of the Basilica of Maxentius. B — The Ara Pacis. Of primary importance in reconstructing its past are, of course, the remains of ancient monuments themselves, of which an incredibly large number have miraculously escaped annihilation through the centuries. The trained archaeologist is continually throwing new light upon our knowledge of the ancient city by means of scientific methods of excavation.
Among the other sources of information there may be mentioned first the ancient authors, some of whom give us unconscious glimpses of the city they knew so well; while others are writers on specialized subjects closely related to topography. In the former group we may recall the histor- ians, Livy and Tacitus; writers with antiquarian interests, such as Varro, Pliny the Elder, and Ovid.
Among the latter we think of Vitruvius, who wrote about architecture, and Frontinus, the author of a treatise on aqueducts. Supple- menting these literary sources are the collections of coins, inscriptions, wall paintings, and sculptural reliefs which have survived from antiquity. In a class by itself as a source of topographical informa- tion is the great marble map of the city, the Forma Urbis.
It is known that in the Augustan Age, Agrippa, the em- peror's able councillor, had such a map made and exhibited in a public place, probably in the Campus Martius. At vari- ous times subsequently as the city grew, a new map was made to supplant the old one. For example, after the fire of 64 A. The last map to be set up was constructed in the early part of the third century between in the reign of Septimius Severus.
Pieces of this important docu- ment first came to light in the sixteenth century and since then more than a thousand pieces have been found. They are now assembled in a room of the little Antiquarium below the Caelian Hill, where patient fingers have undertaken the task of fitting together the bits of this huge jigsaw puzzle.
A replica of the map hangs on one of the walls in the garden of the Conservatori Museum. It is not known wheth- er this last edition was merely a revision of the Flavian and Augustan version or whether its form was original. Of value in extending our knowledge of Rome in anti- quity are the Regionary Catalogues, which give a list of build- ings found in each of the Fourteen Regions established by Augustus.
The problems involved in a study of these docu- ments are too complex to be considered here. Eminent schol- ars differ as to their purpose, chronology, relation to each other and to their common archetype, which was probably compiled between and A. It has been pointed out that they contain startling lacunae in their list of important buildings in each region.
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The most interesting of recent theories considers that their purpose originally was purely stat- istical, perhaps concerned with the distribution of grain. The regions were, therefore, indicated merely by landmarks that would make the boundaries clear, with no attempt to be inclu- sive. Later this compilation was used as a basis for a guide- book and other monuments were added as it passed through various editions.
From early mediaeval times has come down to us an eigh-century guidebook, known as the Einsiedeln Itinerary, written by a Swiss monk when he visited the Eternal City.
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Another description of Rome drawn up in the twelfth century and known as the Mirabilia Romae is also of interest. Draw- ings, engravings, and paintings from the Renaissance play their parts in revealing to us the steps whereby Rome was transformed into the city that we see today. Surrounded by mountains on all sides except on the south the Urbs is situated in the midst of a plain of volcanic origin, known as the Campagna. The Tiber flows through the city from north to south on its way to Ostia, the ancient seaport, where it empties into the ocean.
Samuel Ball Platner, Thomas Ashby, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, Preface
Although the seven traditional hills upon which the city was built still retain their ancient names and may still be. What then has caused the changes in ground level which have taken. It seems clear that many of the elaborate buildings of the Empire were superim- posed upon the foundations of earlier structures which had not been completely demolished. Views of the Ro- man Forum dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- turies show the columns of the ancient temples buried deep in the earth, a clear indication of the extent to which the ground level had risen.
A mere listing of names of such materials or even a description of their appearance is not very enlightening unless one has the opportunity to examine them on the spot. We shall, therefore, touch very briefly upon this subject and limit ourselves to mention of only a few of the materials which were used in antiquity. The only stone employed dur- ing the first centuries of Rome's existence was a volcanic product known as the native tof a. In color this varies from reddish-brown to light yellow. Since it does not " stand up" when exposed to the atmosphere, it was sometimes covered with a layer of stucco.
A kind of dark gray tufa known by the popular term " cappellaccio " continued to be used long after it made its initial appearance in the sixth century B. Similar to the native tufa but harder was the stone known as peperino because its appearance suggested a liberal sprink- ling of pepper corn. Also of volcanic origin this was found in the Alban Hills south of Rome and came into general use in the second century B.
In the same century there was introduced into the city the finest building material, known as travertine, a limestone deposit, found to the south of Rome. Both its durability and its mellow golden color recommended it for constructing such monuments as the Colosseum in anti- quity or St. You cannot overwrite this file. The following other wikis use this file: Usage on en.
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