Photographer's Note

The Roman Forum

The view of the Roman Forum from Capitoline Hill is one of the most evocative places in Rome. The ruins stand in the center of the modern city as a visionary testament to the past greatness. The Roman Forum was the heart of ancient Rome and here was reflected almost every event of importance in Rome’s development from the time of the kings through the middle ages. Many buildings survive from these times some with their columns still standing and others are only identified by their foundations. The huge paving stones of Rome’s most important ancient road remains visible as well as the well-preserved triumphal arches dedicated to Titus and Septimius.

The site of the Roman Forum was originally a marshy valley lying between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills. It was first paved as a market place (forum) in 626 BC. The original forum was a rectangle that measured approximately 115 meters by 57 meters.

Adjacent areas were included and divided the forum in three district areas – the political center, the religious center, and the commercial center. The area of the forum gradually lost its character as a market place and became a center of civic importance and the scene of public functions and ceremonies. In the second century BC, a new type of building, the basilica was introduced. The large covered space was used for judicial hearings and public meetings when they could not be held outside.

The population of city grew and the area of the forum soon became inadequate. In following centuries as the city declined, temples were neglected and robbed of most of their treasures. The few that remained were spoiled even more by invasions and further damaged by earthquakes. The forum was then used as a cow pasture.
In the Renaissance, the forum provided inspiration to artists. Many buildings from the 15th century to the 18th century took their plans from monuments here. At the end of the 18th century, systematic excavations began and continued through the 19th century especially after 1870.

The archaeologist Giacomo Boni conducted excavations from 1898-1925. His work was continued by Alfonso Bartoli. Since 1980, excavations (some still in progress) have been carried out at the west end of the forum at the foot of Capitoline Hill and on the northern slopes of Palatine.

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Additional Photos by Betty Jones (BWJ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 458 W: 0 N: 919] (3094)
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