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Imperial Forum Project formally started on April 21st 1998, as to complete the first
excavations started a few years before in the Forum of Nerva, and
to begin the latest project of digging up more than half of the original Forums. These
were never imagined to be seen by visitors until now.
Therefore, three relevant excavation
areas have been opened in the areas of the Forum of Caesar, the
Templum Pacis or so-called Temple of Peace (Forum of Vespasian),
and finally the Forum of Trajan, which all include a
comprehensive extension of 15,000 square meters, certainly the largest urban excavation
project ever realized.
three work areas were opened simultaneously and the archeological investigation has by now
been going on for six months in all the three areas. Actually there is only one immense
work site, entrusted to three contracting firms and three different cooperatives of
scientific-technical personnel. Together they are dedicating themselves to the excavation
operation and documentation of all investigated areas, under the constant direction of the
Superintendent of Culture in Rome.
Until now the achieved results
are not far from those already obtained from the work in the Forum of
Nerva. The cellars of old structures have been dug up from what used to be the
Alessandrino quarter, erected at the end of the 1500's. This old district was built on
what was originally the Forums. The district was torn down during the 30's to construct
Via dell'Impero with demolitions digging down way below the level of the earth. This
intervention obstructed the conservation of the old district's cellar vaults and antique
Roman pavement was found to be only 2 meters below the district's cellar floors. While
landscaping was underway during the same 1930's intervention, street grids and the
foundations of walls in the Alessandrino district were also found.
there are newly visible axes from Via Cremona to Via Salara Vecchia in the Forum of Caesar, from Via del Sole to Via S. Lorenzo in Miranda in
the Temple of Peace, and from Via del Prionato to Via dei Carbonari
in the Forum of Trajan
The infrastructure defined a series of isolated shelters and private homes, of which
previous archival research was at times able to pinpoint the type of destination. In the Temple of Peace one cellar has been identified as an old hairdresser's
cooperative, typical of the 1800's.
In the Forum
of Caesar, the available areas of operation began with the discovery of structural
foundations of the new Academy of S. Luca. But after the of the work site was torn down in
1932, it was never completed. The Academy belonged to the nearby Church of Saints Luca and
Martina, a work by Pietro of Cortona.
excavation of two court yards in the Academy lead to the emptying out of a large
sixteenth-century pit, probably used by quarrymen for an activity in antique goods. This
excavation met up with the floor of the Forum of Caesar, by
cutting through a series of clay layers related to a medieval cultivation activity.
Actually a large part of the
imperial pavement has been revealed in the Portico of the Forum of
In the Temple
of Peace they have already been able to start the true archeological operations In two
work site sectors they have identified stratification and structures relative to two
distinct historical periods of utilization in the area: the foundation of a work site for
the construction of the Alessandrino district during the first decade of the 1600's, and
agricultural utilization that proceeded the Alessandrino intervention.
The foundation procedures of the
late sixteenth century Alessandrino district emerged in this excavation sector with great
clarity. Before urban intervention, foundations were laid down on barulle (depressed
rounded arches) of the preceding levels that defined the district's blocks. The same
technique was used to lay down perpendicular walls on Via Alessandrina to subdivide some
of the buildings sites in the north. Meanwhile, the buildings to the south were not
subdivided because the area was destined to be the garden for the church of Saints Cosmos
and Damian, which were placed above the Forum itself.
Underneath the construction level
of the Alessandrino quarter, the excavation revealed a series of corresponding layers
related to cultivation activity during both the renaissance and late medieval period. In
some sectors they've dug down to 17.5 meters above sea level, where they've found a series
of alignments consisting of cylindrical and column bases resting under levels from the
early medieval period. However, these bases were probably part of the original
architectural structure of the Temple of Peace, and therefore
reused during the medieval period.
In the Forum
of Trajan, two blocks of modern epoch houses and an intermediate block in the center
have been made evident. The latter has a rectangular hall of 10x30 meters constructed with
tufa on the inside and brick on the outside, allowing us to date the structure between the
late XII century to the beginning of the XIII century.
Inside the hall was a 1600's
construction of the Church of S. Urbano which was destroyed during the 1930's. This
church, together with the connected Convent, was dated to being originally constructed
Actually, the 13th century
building is still under excavation, but nevertheless they have started to interpret what
has already been excavated. Records show the existence of a hospital belonging to the
Priorate of Cavalieri from the order of Malta and from the noble "domus" Bianco
It is evident that the
archeological research in the three forum areas is directed toward finding out as much as
possible concerning the topography and urbanization of the Imperial Forums. Just now in
these past few days, they have also found a precious decorative element in Forum of Trajan.
In the relative section of the
convent connected to the Church of S. Urbano, a headless statue representing a Dacian
prisoner has been recovered, certainly representing the monumentality of the Forum after
the victorious war of Trajan against Dacia. At least 60 Dacians statues were placed along
the portico in places 15 meters high.
The 1.7 meter high statue is also missing the lower part of the legs and probably
originally reached a complete height of 2.4 meters, similar to others recovered during the
intervention in the 20's and 30's that are today preserved in Italian and foreign museums.
The statue is made of Luni marble and is of fine workmanship and preserved well. Made
obvious is the short tunic draping against "knickers" that cover the knee. The
position of the arms are crossed since the enemy was always represented as such.
Next to the statue an inscription from II A.D. was also found along with a splendid
architectonic fragment in yellow marble decorated with grape leaves. Excavation continues
in the rest of the sector and seems to be rich with other marble fragments.
The importance of these findings
is impossible to go unnoticed. Besides the historical value of the statue, it has been
found that the complex area of the Imperial Forums has never been archeologically
excavated, not even during the 1930's.
The stratigraphical research
taking place inside the Forums is revealing more consistently that everything is still at
the phase between the XI and XII centuries when the site was abandoned and began the
phases of collapse, plundering and stealing, and the desperate reutilization of
antique materials began.
When the phase of destruction ended, cultivation and the formation of orchards began,
where there still lies an invaluable treasure!
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