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Fori Imperiali
 

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The Forum Area

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> Forum of Augustus

> Forum of Caesar

> Forum of Nerva

> Temple of Peace (Forum of Vespasian)

> Forum of Trajan

> Trajan's Market


ForiThe 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.

ForiThe 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.

ForiToday 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.

ForiThe 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 Caesar.

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 between 1263-1264.

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 family.

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!

Chart of the Imperial Forums


> Presentation of the operation

> Methodology of the archeological excavation

> News from the Forum workshop

> The staff engaged in recovery

 

 

 

 

 

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