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Rome: ParadiseLost's Roman Forum Walking Tour

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The Roman Forum is my favorite place on Earth and I have spent *many days* there on 8 trips searching and just wandering around.
  It is after all just a pile of old rocks :) but what makes it interesting is the stories that they can tell!
  Your best guide in the Roman Forum is your own IMAGINATION. Try visualizing what it looked like, not just the bldgs but the people going about their business.
  For example: Behind the Basilica Julia on the edge of the Forum there are just two ugly brick piers right in front of the modern day wc/bathrooms.
  Those brick piers once formed a marble faced arch at the beginning of a short (~100m) street. It was the 'Street of the Perfume Sellers'.
  So while waiting in line for the wc :).
*Imagine* this beautiful marble-faced archway, look thru it and down that ancient street.
  It's lined on both sides with perfume shops and the owners are loudly hawking their wares to the women passing by.
  See that old rich aristocratic woman with her slaves shopping for the newest expensive imported fad fragrance. And over there that common Roman housewife who saved a few coins from the household budget looking for that bargain scent to spice up her sex life:). And there, the young virgin bride-to-be shopping next to a famous concubine to the stars:). And of course a few men looking for a gift for their wife, mistress or favorite slavegirl, perhaps all three for some:). And the slaves of the owners and customers silent and sullen in the background who will never know such luxuries.
  You see if you know the street had perfume shops on it with alittle imagination and realistically tying-in perfume, women and sex, you can visualize it along with the actual people and events you might have seen there.

Ok, I am a terrible writer and an even worst proofreader so take that into consideration when reading this :).
  Also I am taking info from many sources in my notes and throwing them together in a condensed version, so things can get jumbled-up.   
  And probably from my 'cut & paste' to posting it paragraphs will possibly run together. If you decide to print-out this walk just cut & paste it from Fodors and space them out yourself.
  I made printed notes that I took with me from websites, history & guidebooks, tv documentarys, tours, etc and even some guesses.  
 So with this condensed version I have added directions to make it into a walking tour. I tried to include major and minor tidbits that you won't find in your guidebooks or hear from a tourguide.   And often guidebooks and tourguides are wrong (urban legends), inaccurate or just give one possible version of the sites, events or people when there are others. So if I wrote something here different from what you read or heard from a tourguide, I have probably read or heard it also. But in researching these sites or events I found that often these descriptions are wrong.
  Examples like; there is no definite proof that the 'Temple of Romulus' was dedicated to Emperor Maxentius' dead son Romulus.
  Or the deep grooves on the columns of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was caused by Renaissance workers trying to pull them down.
 I tried to be as accurate as I could from what I have read, heard or seen but you can always find another version. *Bottomline*, I personally didn't dig-up the Forum and uncover these sites or write the history books :), this info is out there in many sources, I just threw it all together and tried to choose the one (or two) I thought was the most accurate. So if I'm wrong in a few things, so be it :).
  I have had these notes for a few years and I'm always adding things. And I have wanted to write a walking tour with them but time and wanting to write it properly, I just never got around to it. So I'm just throwing it out there right now, if not, I never will :). I'll be adding sites to this thread as I write them, it will probably take awhile.
 In the 'Roman Forum Beginning' I chose one version of the Romulus and Remus myth. I believe it is very possible these 2 men actually existed because someone had to start this city. And they just became mythological figures over the years by the embellishing of the story thru the storytelling (oral history).

Below are some websites that will help you search further for info but most importantly photo and model websites so you can see these sites as they are today and what they originally looked like.

 This site is very good for historical & archaeological info. The info is from material published ~75-125yrs ago and for the most part it is very accurate but any new discoveries or historical revisions wouldn't be included.*/home*.html OR Use the links in the 'General Topic Areas'.
  [History of the Roman Forum]*/1/1.html *OR*
  Also *definitely* use the 'Search' at the bottom of either of those pages for info, just use the 'Search This Site' option. If a site comes up in Italian click-on the US Flag but if the flag is faded that means the site doesn't have an English translation.   The website below is basically like the 1st one above but I would recommend using the 1st one for the better word translations and notes. *OR*
 Also quite alot of informative links on this website

[Forum Models]

[Forum Photos]

  Of course there's always for finding info on the ancient sites, history and people. And for other photo images, drawings and diagrams of the ancient sites use Google's 'Images' search
Regards, Walter

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    [This is the URL for this thread]
    Start at the 'Via dei Fori Imperiali' entrance (this is at the end of Via Cavour) to the Roman Forum standing on the sidewalk out front. Directly in front of you is the Roman Forum entrance and a small bldg with guidebooks, gifts, water and a w.c. Sold there is 'The Roman Forum' by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma (overall an excellent guidebook) as well as their other site & museum guides.      Over your left shoulder 45° and across the street is the Fori Imperiali (Imperial Forums) Visitor Center (the bldg behind the Info booth) with info, guidebooks, gifts, *tours*, audioguides, cafe (good for a quick cheap bite, if open) and a w.c.   To your left-front @ 45° is the church 'St. Cosmas and Damian' (Santi Cosma E Damiano). To the left of the entrance is the bldg's brick wall full of clamp holes, this was where the 'Marble Plan' was attached in ancient times (~203-211AD: 'Forma Urbis Romae' aka 'Severan Marble Plan' A large very detailed map of Rome 18m/60ft wide X 13m/45 ft high, scaled at 1 to 240 on 151 marble slabs. Made under Emperor Septimius Severus and mounted on a wall of the Temple of Peace.)
    This 527AD church was built using the large audience hall or library of the 'Temple of Peace' (Emperor Vespasian 75AD).   If you visit this church you can see the interior of the 'Temple of Romulus' which was used as the church's vestibule (you will see the exterior of this intact Temple in the Roman Forum).
     Now look to the right, far down and across the street and find the 'Column of Trajan' (you will probably have to step into the street to see it).   There was a ridge that connected the Capitoline Hill with the Quirinal Hill. Tragan's Column marks the highest height of this ridge although that point was probably North of the column in the hillside. He removed the ridge to build his Forum, Basilica, and Market.   Also the 'Wedding Cake/Typewritter' (Vittorio Emanuele II Monument 1885-1911) cut a big chunk out of the Capitoline Hill, thus destroying the ruins in that section.   Now look to your left way down the street towards the Colosseum. Mussolini removed part of a ridge called the Velia between the Palatine Hill and the Esquiline Hill to build the road and sidewalk you're now standing on.      Now turn right and walk down the sidewalk along the main street over to between the 2nd & 3rd lampost. And look into the Forum, use your guidebook map of the Forum and your imagination:).   The Palatine Hill is 45° to your left and the Capitoline Hill is 45° to your right.   Between these 2 hills is a valley which is the Roman Forum. When Rome was founded in 753BC this valley was a marshy swamp with a stream running thru it. The stream came down from the hill behind you, passed beneath you, thru the Forum and out to the Tiber River.   This swampy area was unsuitable for human habitation due to diseases like Malaria.
    [This is the view you will be seeing In the foreground is the 'Forum of Nerva' aka 'Forum Transitorium', behind that (grassy area & ruins) is the Basilica Aemilia aka Fulvia-Aemilia, Emilia, Paulli. And behind that is the 'Roman Forum Square'.
      In the far upper-left corner are the massive Palace extendions from the Palatine Hill.
      In the far-upper right corner is the edge of the Capitoline Hill. The intact bldg on the right edge is the Curia Julia (Senate Bldg). Also notice the narrow road that passes beneath you and thru that arch in the lower-right corner and over to the leftside of the Curia and into the Forum. It's called the Argiletum, it's an ancient Roman road but that section has been paved over in Medieval times. You call see an ancient section behind you and across the street (with wheel ruts in the pavement for the animal carts that used to travel along it, those ruts were designed in the pavement to keep the carts on track, even though many tourguides falsely claim that they were made by chariots], that section is the 'Forum of Nerva' also. You can also see an ancient section when you visit the Curia Julia.]
    Now walk over to the sidewalk railing, there is a Forum of Nerva map/diagram there listing the sites before you. (For info on this Forum  
     Now look below you at a large area of *large* marble pavement slabs. The distant 2 have ancient board-games etched into them and just to the right of them you'll notice a curved underground structure (with a couple of stone blocks missing) which passes beneath the marble floor, that is the 'Cloaca Maxima' (a great drain or sewer, it's also shown on the diagram).   The marsh and stream was 1st professionally canalled (a stone lined trench bridged, covered & open) sometime after 616BC by King Tarquinius Priscus and the Roman Forum was born of this reclaimed land. With it's 1st pavement just that of beaten earth.   But it is very possible that a half-hearted attempt (a deeper ditch to allow the water to flow out easier and back-filling the marsh with dirt) was done earlier. But flooding and erosion would always be attacking this earthen ditch and carrying away their dirt backfill. A stone canal would cure that problem though.   The actual Cloaca Maxima (a stone vaulted underground sewer) that we think of today was built shortly after 300BC (the section you're looking at is from a Emperor Diocletian rebuild, ~284+AD). This sent that stream underground vs. an open canalled ditch that was bridged and covered-over in certain areas.
     Let's imagine we can go back in time to ~770's BC, using that decade for the birth of Romulus and Remus would put them between 17 & 27yrs old at the founding of Rome in 753BC. We sink thru the sidewalk and below the ruins to the level of this ancient stream. There are no buildings or dwellings, just nature as it has been for thousands of years.     We walk along the leftside the stream into the marsh that is now the Roman Forum.  There are Iron Age communites (tribes) living on the Palatine and Capitoline Hills which are natural fortresses and very easy to defend. There are also other community/tribes in Rome on the other hills and in other surrounding locations. And north of the Tiber River are the more advanced Etruscans.
      This is an excellent location except for the surrounding diseased marshes. Far from the sea so you don't have to worry about pirate raids and along a major waterway (Tiber River) which makes transportation & trading easier. And nearby is a shallow & narrow section of the Tiber allowing land trade to cross (the 1st bridge will be built there in ~642-617BC of wood, roughly where the modern Ponte Palatino bridge stands today).    Basically we're at a trade-route crossroad with a couple of natural fortresses (the Palatine & Capitoline Hill) where the inhabitants can easily defend their turf.  The banks of this Forum marsh was used as a burial ground for these hilltop communities in the 10th-9thC BC. And later only for children in the 8th-7thC BC. [It seems that around the founding of Rome mid-8thC (753BC) adults were no longer buried here, just children.]
    But this watery marsh was also used for a few human sacifices! Or was this just their form of capital punishment? The sacificed bodies of a man and woman (7thC BC) thrown into this marsh were found beneath the Forum Sq. and are now in the Forum Museum (Antiquarium Forense, in the last room with a large lead container in the center). Also in the Forum Sq. a radar sounding was done. And 6m below groundlevel are the bodies of a man, woman and child bound together who were thrown into this marsh. Criminals?, traitors?, heretics?, sacifices?, POWs? We now leave this ancient marsh and walk along the left bank of the stream towards the Tiber River and out of the Forum. This stream follows what is today labeled (in guidebooks) the 'Vicus Tucus' (Street of the Etruscans) which passes between the Basilica Julia and the Temple of the Castores (Castor & Pollux).
    After we pass by the Palatine Hill (on our left) we turn around and look up the slope of the Palatine Hill's SW corner which is facing a valley (one day this valley will become the Circus Maximus) and the Aventine Hill.   
    [OK there are many versions of Romulus' mythological life from birth to death, I mention some and omit others. IMO he probably existed. Why not?, after all somebody had to be the 1st King of Rome, so why not someone named Romulus:). And we know the names of the other kings that directly followed him! So a real life famous/hero/founder human made mythological over the years isn't a far stretch.]   On this Palatine slope there is a cave (later named the Lupercal & highly revered by the Romans) inhabited by a female wolf (she-wolf). But today she is out hunting along the nearby flooded banks of the Tiber.   She cautiously approaches a basket that has washed-up on the bank. There are cries and movement within the basket along with the scent of humans. The she-wolf looks inside and sees two infant twin boys.   Ok, quickly how they got there:). There is a city called Alba Longa, founded by the decendents of the Battle of Troy. The King's brother pulls a coup and takes over.
      The king's daughter (his niece) is forced to become a Vestal Virgin so that no future heirs to the rightful throne will show up one day, her name is Rhea Silva.
      Later she has a fling with the God Mars and becomes pregnant (well that's her story and she's sticking with it:).   She gives birth to twin boys and then is burned alive for breaking the Vestal's vow of chastity (later Vestals will be buried alive instead) OR she is allowed to live but again as a Vestal.
      The King orders the twins to be drowned in the Tiber River. The man on this mission casts them adrift in a basket instead and heads back home, mission accomplished or so he thinks! Far downstream the basket becomes entangled on the riverbank. Our She-wolf finds it and takes the basket back to her cave and suckles the infant twins with her milk.     But wait it gets better:). A Woodpecker named Picus feeds them like birds feed their young, solid food turned into baby food by the mother's regurgitation.
     One day a shepherd named Faustulus finds the twins and brings them home (atop the Palatine Hill). Where he and his wife (Acca Larenzia) raise them as their own and call them Romulus and Remus.     The twins later as young men find out who they really are and head back to Alba Longa to set things right OR Remus is captured by his Great-Uncle King and Romulus invades and wins.   Either way they dethrone and kill their great-uncle and put the rightful king (their grandfather) back in charge. And everyone lives happily ever after and the brothers ride off into the sunset:).
    They get home decide to build a new city. Romulus wants the city founded on the Palatine Hill but Remus prefers the Aventine Hill.   They decide the only way to settle on the location is to do an Augury (a Heavenly/Godly sign in the form of a flight of birds).   At dawn Remus is atop the Aventine and Romulus is on the Palatine searching the heavens. Remus sees 6 vultures and goes running over to the Palatine to tell his brother that "I won".   But before he gets there Romulus sees 12 vultures. And a typical brotherly argument ensues, "I saw mine 1st" ... "Yea, but I saw more than you" ...1ST...MORE...1ST...MORE!!! Romulus decides to settle it the way power struggles are usually killing the opposition! *OR* later while Romulus is building a wall around the Palatine Hill for his new city. His brother laughs at how low the walls are and that they wouldn't stop anyone. He then leaps over the wall and Romulus kills him in a fit of rage.    Now Romulus is 'King of the Hill' and his newly formed city called Rome is founded on April 21, 753BC.   
      Great story! But this is probably more closer to the truth:). Romulus and Remus were possibly Etruscans possibly born of outcast parents/grandparents who were either exiled or left on their own. Or perhaps they themselves were exiled either by force or choice, with the Tiber River as a boundary seperating them from the Etruscans.   Very unlikely that they were brothers, more likely that they were equals. Each having his own band of lowlife outlaws.   With Remus' gang on the Aventine Hill and Romulus' gang on the Palatine Hill.   Maybe they were once united (like brothers?) and had a falling-out or were always at odds with one another. Either way Romulus won with Remus' murder and was now the sole outlaw leader.  Raised by a She-Wolf? Sure why not? It's very possible! A She-Wolf is slang for prostitute:).   Romulus (and possibly Remus if they were really brothers) could have been born of Faustulus' wife who was a prostitute. Remember this is an fringe society.   So years down the road how would the Romans want their Founding and their 1st King's history too read?   Born of Etruscan outcasts whose mother was a prostitute and whose father was??? But lets say the shepherd Faustulus was Romulus' father, then his Dad was his Mom's pimp!
      Hardly a blue-blood lineage:).
      And to top it off he grows-up to be the leader of a bunch low-life social outcasts!!!

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    #1. (Part 2) So they bring in a PR firm and they come up with this story. Honorable ancestors from ancient Troy, Grandpa's a King, Mom's a Princess and Dad...why he's the God Mars of course:).   Romulus opens his city to everyone and anyone in order to populate it (strength & safety in numbers). But what he gets are criminals, murderers, outcasts, runaway slaves, etc, not exactly the "cream of the crop":).   Romulus' newly founded city is made-up almost entirely of men! I'm sure they're having a ball, raising hell, gettin' drunk, fightin', livin' like pigs and peeing everywhere and on everything :). You know, just basic male behaviour that we surpress:).   Rome's just a like an American wild-west cowboy frontier town. But ask any US historian "Who really tamed the Wild West".   And Romulus' Rome severely lacks them...Women!
      But the Sabines who live on the Quirinal Hill and beyond have unmarried virgin daughters!   Romulus sends out emissaries to the Sabines and to the other local tribes. Asking if they can marry their daughters.   But they don't even want to hear about it from these misfits and social outcasts, their answer is "NO WAY".      Romulus' newly founded city is doomed to die without children to re-populate it and their beds are very lonely and cold every night.   So he and the other *young* men decide they want women and they want women NOW! And "NO", just isn't an option.    Romulus gets a PR firm and starts promoting the upcoming "Festival of Consualia" that he and the boys will be throwing.   He tells the Sabines to "come on over and bring the wife and kids". There will be a big feast, plenty of wine and games, fun for the entire family.   He opens the gates of the Palatine to his new friends and feasting begins. The Sabine men are alittle leary at first but later start having a good time when the wine starts flowing.   Later they all go down to the valley (Circus Maximus) to watch the games (horse races)...and drink some more wine!   Romulus waits for the opportune time and gives a signal, suddenly his (sober) men grab-up all the virgins and some of the wives and start running back to the Palatine. A rear guard holds off the drunken Sabines and once they are thru the gate the Sabines are locked out.   The Sabines are 'fit to be tied' and they want their women back and vengence. They stagger home (probably gettin' an ear full from the remaining wives all the way back:) to sober-up and prepare for war.   The abducted maidens are carried kicking and screaming to their future husband's huts. [It's the custom to this very day for the bride, not of herself to pass her husband's threshold, but to be lifted over, in memory of the Sabine Virgins who were carried in by violence, and did not go in of their own will]
       Now they've lost their virginity and many will become pregnant and this puts these women in awkward position. Would their tribe and future husbands accept these events if rescued? Would they and their half-Roman children become social outcasts? Would their children be killed?    Romulus goes around to each one and sweet talks them. "Sorry, what could we do your parents wouldn't allow us to marry you, we will have weddings for you and you will share your husbands property and have civil rights and your children will be born Freeman". Then the 'big line', "When your husband (abductor) first saw you, he was just so overcome with your beauty and his passion for you he just couldn't help himself".    
      Well either the women buy-it or just finally resign themselves to the fact that they are now the wives of these men.   Remember their life probably wouldn't be any better even if they were still with their own tribe (arraigned marriages, 3rd class citizens, husbands, fathers, brothers with absolute rule over them, etc).    But the new in-laws are still pretty %#&!^@-off and war is on their agenda, they battle back and forth over *quite* some time.  But the Sabines are in a bad military position to attack. The Palatine Hill is fortified with walls and gates which is hard enough too try and storm. Add to that the Romans also have a fortress/citadel on the Capitoline Hill. Attack either one and the Romans can send reinforcements to attack their rear or flank. The Sabines must take out the Capitoline Citadel to even hope for a victory!   The Commander of the Citadel is Spurius Tarpeius and he has a daughter named Tarpea. One day she leaves the Citadel to fetch water for a religious ceremony. The Sabine King named Tatius approaches her and offers her any reward if she will just open the Citadel's Gate.    She says to Tatius "Give to me what your warriors wear on their left arms and I will open the gate". [Sabine warriors wear gold armlets and jeweled rings on their left shield arm.]   Later she opens the gate and the Sabines storm and capture the Citadel. The Sabines true to their word give her what they wear on their left arms, their shields! Which they pile on top of her until she is crushed to death.   [She was buried on the southern part of the Capitoline but her body was moved years later when the Temple of Jupitor was built there. The Tarpeian Rock on the Capitoline (SE corner) was named after her, it's where traitors were thrown off to their deaths.]    Romulus has no choice now and challenges the Sabines to battle in the Forum valley which had flooded a few days before and is now dangerously muddy.  With each side on either side of the marsh the attack begins. A Sabine Knight named Curtius leads the charge but his horse gets stuck in the muddy marsh. It's a becomes a very famous and important site in the Forum from that time to the present day, the 'Lacus Curtius' (Lake of Curtius)...where some guy got stuck! the mud!...with his horse!...go figure!:-). They clash back and forth in little skirmishes across the marsh. Romulus gets hit in the head with a stone and is briefly knocked-out. His men panic upon seeing their leader down (dead?) and retreat back towards the safety of the Palatine.   Romulus quickly comes-too and runs to his men, he implores them to return to the battle but too no avail. He cannot stop their panic-driven retreat.   Romulus raises his hands to heaven and begs the God Jupitor for help. Suddenly his men stop as if their limbs were bound and they feel the shame of running from the battle before their King. [Romulus will later mark this site with the 'Altar of Jupitor Stator' (Stayer)].   Romulus then shouts "Back Romans! Jupitor bids you to stand and renew the battle". His men turn and bravely charge back into the valley. The battle is now ready to go major and only one side will be victorious.  
       But for one group it's a no-win situation, the Roman-Sabine wives. They'll probably lose at least one person in their lives if not more...either a husband, father, brother, relative or friend in the battle.      The women march down from the Palatine dressed as brides and mothers (it's been a while ~2yrs, many have children) and run between the two sides in the midst of their battle [in the area of the Regia/Temple of Julius Caesar]. They plead with their fathers on one side and their husbands on the other. "Better for us to perish than live without one or the other of you, as widows or as orphans".    The battle ceases and then silence as the men are moved by their pleas. The Generals on both sides meet and make peace, the Romans and the Sabines merge together as one people with the power shared between two Kings.   Rome just took it's 1st baby step in expanding it's Empire. The Roman Forum now has it's first site, the Comitius (from the verb comire, in Latin it means 'meet' and it's where the warring Generals make their peace). It becomes known as the Comitium and it will be where the people and later the Senators will hold outdoor public meetings. [It's the area directly in front of and beneath the Curia Julia (Senate bldg), 45deg to your right, the tall intact brick bldg.]   So Romulus and the Sabine Tatius become co-ruling Kings and get along very well for ~5yrs. Until some Sabines attempt to rob Ambassadors that they just were supposed to meet and escort on the road. The robbery goes badly and they kill the ambassadors...opps.   Romulus wants them brought to justice but Tatius does nothing for they are his friends and relatives.   Romulus and Tatius quarrel about it but it's not enough too fight over and end the peace and unification.
      One day they are both out doing a political ribbon-cutting, actually a sacrifice:), when relatives of the slain ambassadors attack and kill Tatius.
      Romulus is left alone because he had sought justice. Romulus seeks no revenge on them (it does after all put him in the #1 spot:) and has Tatius buried on the Aventine Hill.
      Romulus rules on for another 33yrs until one day a great thunder & wind storm came down from heaven, enveloped him and carried him off to heaven to be with his father Mars. He is now a God himself, never to be seen again.
      Well that's the miracle the Senators are trying to sell to the people but they aren't buying it and they love Romulus.   It's starting to look grim for the Senators long term health until a man deeply trusted by the people named Proculus Julius comes forward and says.   Why just this morning Romulus descended from heaven and appeared before me and said. "Go and tell the Romans that it is the will of heaven that my Rome should be the head of the World". The people buy it, don't they always:).
      The Senators know the truth, a couple of days earlier Romulus was with them by the Volcanal (an outdoor shrine/altar dedicated to Vulcan, which now lies beneath the Niger Lapis in front of the Curia) when they killed him! Possibly he was then dismembered and the pieces hidden beneath the senator's clothing so they could dispose of his body elsewhere without detection, it's never found.   Romulus was killed because of his despotic exploitation of power. So the 1st ruler (king) of Rome is murdered so another ruler can take his place...I see a trend starting here:).
      Rome will have more Kings until the last is overthrown which ends the Regal Period.
    The Republic is founded in 509BC and lasts until 27BC. With Julius Caesar's death in 44BC and then years of Civil War this helped usher in the Imperial Age of the Emperors beginning with Augustus.   Constantine will become Emperor in 312AD and the 1st semi-Christian ruler of Rome.   The Empire has been declining for years but gets a real shove on August 24, 410AD when the Visigoths sack Rome. Many historians (not all) believe that this date was the beginning of the 'Fall of the Roman Empire'. Seeing that Rome hadn't been sacked in 800yrs in seems a good call to me :).

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    #2. BASILICA AEMILIA (aka Emilia, Fulvia-Aemilia, *Paulli*-This was it's common name after 54BC) [Compass points of reference I will use in the Forum: The sidewalk we are on now is North
    (N) so the opposite side is South (S), the Capitoline Hill is West
    (W) and the other end by the Colosseum is East (E). And of course (NE) will be Northeast, (SW) Southwest, etc.]
    Ok, now leave the Via d. Fori Imperiali sidewalk and walk thru the Roman Forum entrance gate and down the ramp.
    You are leaving the ground level of modern Rome and walking down into history which was buried for many centuries.   Halfway down the ramp stop and look (W) . That is the Basilica Aemila, it's the only basilica from the Republican Period in the Forum to have survived. Others were obliterated by later constructions.   
    Basilicas were public bldgs used for conducting business (like merchants meeting businessmen) and law courts.
    At the far (W) end beneath the protective metal roof are the remains of the original 179BC Basilica.   Built in 179BC as the Basilica Fulvia-Aemilia by the Censors "Marcus *Fulvius* Nobilior" & Marcus "Aemilius* Lepidus. Later restored several times by the Aemilia family, it took on their family name in their honor.   A famous restoration was in 78BC by another Marcus Aemilius Lepidus who was Consul that year. He built the facade facing the Forum and the interior colonnade. The column stumps in the above photo are the remains of these beautiful imported columns from Asia Minor (Turkey).   The facade facing the Forum was adored with shields with portraits of his ancestors on them (imagines clipeatae).  Another major restoration financed by Julius Caesar was begun and finished by Augustus in 54BC-34BC and the "Tabernae Novae" (commercial shops, along the S side's facade) was added.   In ~14BC the Basilica and the Tabernae Novae were destroyed by fire (the beautiful domestic and imported marble floor is from this rebuilding). Both were rebuilt by Augustus and the 'Portius of Gaius and Lucius' was added, it was dedicated 2BC.   In 22AD it is again restored (fire?) under Tiberius. It was then one of the most beautiful buildings in the Roman World according to Pliny and the only basilica (although rebuilt several times) of it's type to survive from the Republican Period in the Forum.   More fires lay in it's future both accidental and deliberate by invading armys. Then a major earthquake in 847AD. This earthquake finally ended any use of the Medieval rebuilt sections of this bldg and the Tabernae's back brick wall finally collapsed.
      It was abandoned and lay in ruin until the Renaissance when it was stripped for building materials.
      For timekeeping the Romans used sundials, which aren't much good when it's cloudly. So in 159BC the Censor P. Scipio Nasica installed a public Clepsydra or water clock in the Basilica. This clock kept track of the hours both during the day and at night. It doesn't sound like a big deal to us but they now have an official time 24/7 year-round.
       To me what is most interesting about this site is that history has left a visible timestamp regarding the Fall of the Roman Empire. Fused coins on the floor of the Basilica.   Numerous intact coins from that era (pre-410AD) were found when this eastern end was excavated (this section was never rebuilt after it was torched in the 410AD sacking of Rome and lay buried until 100+yrs ago).
    Ok here's what happened the day the coins were fused into the pavement. The Empire was already in it's decline but on August 24, 410AD, it was given a shove.
      "The city which had taken the whole World was itself taken;" St. Jerome 412AD.
      Alaric and his Visigoth Army have laid seige on Rome for 18 months, the city is staving and there are rumors of cannibalism.   Alaric's army is camped in the present day Villa Borghese Park when someone opened the Salaria Gate (now called the Porta Pinciana at the end of the Via Veneto). The gate was possibily opened by slaves who were spies for Alaric or by servants of a noblewoman (to perhaps end the seige?/reward?/spy?).
      The 3 day sacking of Rome has begun. The Visigoths are also Christians like the Romans so as far as sackings go, there have been alot worst in history:). Loot is what they are most interested rather than murder and rape.
      I assume the common foot soldier was only interested in gold and silver coins and jewelry as loot, easy to carry during a sacking and perhaps keep on his person afterwards as his share?      In the alleged words of the American bank robber Willie Horton when asked why he robbed banks said "Because that's where the money is." If I was a Visigoth I'd be heading straight to the Forum "because that's where the money is":) [he never said this, a reporter made it up].   How about a guess regarding the fused coins:). The rich bankers/moneychangers and shopkeepers from the connecting Tabernae Novae ran into the Basilica with their money dropping some coins in their haste while seeking shelter or escape when the Visigoths stormed into the Forum without warning.  Then perhaps then they were robbed at swordpoint by the Visigoths and in the chaos some coins were dropped.   The Basilica like many other bldgs was then put to the torch, the blazing wooden roof collapsed and fused *some* coins into the marble floor. *Some* because not all coins would fuse/melt being different metals but mainly how the blazing wooden roof landed on the floor. If say a blazing large beam landed flat on the floor with coins beneath it, it wouldn't burn underneath. But if it fell and remained a few inches above the floor, it would still burn and create a furnace-like temperature in that small section.   
    To see these fused coin impressions go down the ramp and over by that 1st column stump in the photo and follow these directions. But before you go and leave this ramp look to the *far right*. On top of that wall in that NE corner of the Basilica are 2 plaster casts which was once part of a 185m frieze that adorned the central aisle's architrave this bldg in Sulla's time (original in the Forum Museum-Antiquarium but inaccessable to public). The one on the left depicts part of a complex scene that showed the "Rape of the Sabine Women".  And the one on the right shows the murder of Tarpea. Remember the young woman who promised to open the city gate for the enemy Sabines in exchange for the ornaments they wore on their left arms. They kept their promise and piled their shields that they carried on their left arm on top of her until she was crushed.

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    Walk down to the bottom of the ramp and stand in that little fenced section on the right, this will get ya out of the way of other people:).   In front of you facing South is a section of the Via Sacra and on the other side of that is the Temple of Julius Caesar.   Now turn right facing West: Looking down the length of the the section between the Via Sacra and the Basilica Fulvia-Aemila.     Later as you walk down the Via Sacra study this area. You will see steps (3-4 steps from the Via Sacra), column remains, bases, corinthian capitals and some excellent decorative remains of this bldg complex (staircases were at each end). The Portico, Tabernae and the Basilica were all connected together and basically the same bldg. And for awhile ranked as one of the most magnificent bldgs in the Roman world.  This is how you should picture this: Along the Via Sacra were a few steps where you entered a beautiful 2-story arched & columned porticus called the PORTICO OF GAIUS AND LUCIUS CAESAR (2BC).   And inside that was the TABERNAE NOVA (commerical shops-on both floors). It's that long brickwall with remains of the sidewalls still in place.  There were always shops in that area but more upscale 2000yrs ago.
      The 1st shops were built during the reign of King Tarquinius Priscus (616-579BC), they were just food shops (vegetables, meat, fish etc) back then. Later when the Forum became more upscale they were called the 'Tabernae Argentariae'. The Argentarii were money-changers or bankers and silversmiths/jewelers. Hannibal while encamped outside Rome put these rich shops up to auction but he never succeeded in entering Rome.   After an even later rebuild because of a fire they were called the 'Tabernae Novae' which I believe refers to them being on the sunny side of the Forum (Sub Novis), the shops on the otherside of the Forum where the Basilica Julia now stands was the shady side (Sub Veteribus).   Hopefully these shops were insured because on March 18, 44BC. Because they were looted for tables, chairs or anything that would burn. This material was then piled-up across the street and became Julius Caesar's funeral pyre.  
     This area was open to the Basilica and you can see a door/archway still intact, along with 2 other openings minus the archway farther down. These large 3 doors main purpose was to allow air to flow into the Basilica during the summer's brutal heat, being a passageway was just an added benefit.   
    The 3 standing columns on the east end were from a rebuilding after the 410AD fire (these 3 red granite columns were from a group of 16 and were just re-erected there and are not in their original location).   Part of the Basilica and Porticus were rebuilt over in the 6C by a large bldg but the great earthquake 847AD destroyed it.
      Also in this SE corner where you are standing you will notice some ruins that look out of place (a couple {down} stairs, a room, etc. These are the remains of a small Medieval bldg that occupied this corner of the Portico in later years.
    Still standing at the bottom of the ramp on your right is what is known as 'The Large Dedicatory Inscription', ya can't miss it:).   This dedication is to Lucius Caesar. The inscription and fragments of another similar inscription dedicated to Gaius Caesar probably come from the Parthian Arch which was rededicated (and renamed?) to the two brothers after their death.   Poor Gaius and Lucius once grandpa died (Emperor Augustus) they would have ruled the Roman Empire at it's peak but Augustus outlived them both.
    The Parthian Arch spanned the Via Sacra between this Portico and the Temple of Divus Julius. If you look across the Via Sacra to the Temple of Julius Caesar and to the left of the opening in the center of the temple, on the ground you will see the scant remains of a foundation (where the floodlight is). This was very likely the foundation for this triple arch.   The arch was originally erected (19BC) to celebrate Augustus' recovery of the army standards that had been lost to the Parthians by Crassus in 55BC.
      LUCIUS LULIUS CAESAR (17 BC - 2 AD) The son of Agrippa and Julia, and grandson of Augustus. Augustus adopted Lucius and his brother Gaius Caesar. At 15 he was admitted to the senate and given the title of Princeps Juventutis (his brother held this title before him). In 2 AD in Massalia (Marseilles, France) on his way to Spain he died of disease. Leaving his brother Gaius as heir to the Empire, who surprisingly enough for ancient Rome had nothing to do with his death :).   GAIUS LULIUS CAESAR (20 BC - 4 AD) At 15 he was admitted to the senate and given the Consulship for 1AD and also the title of Princeps Juventutis. After being Consul he went to Parthia with pro-Consular powers. Here he met the Parthian king, appointed a client king in Armenia and and suppressed a revolt there. He was seriously wounded in a siege and died eighteen months later on his way back to Rome. With both Gaius and Lucius dead Augustus was without a male bloodline heir, so he was *forced* to adopt his stepson Tiberius (Augustus' 2nd wife Livia's son).   
    If the brothers had lived the line of heirs would have gone a completely different route and we would have never really heard of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero:) and those that followed after them. Think about this as a 'What If'! Without Golden later Colosseum by Great Fire in 64AD due to 50yrs of very different events happening and different people being born & Christian persecution by crucifixon of St. Peter in the Circus of St. Peter's Vatican...What path would Christianity have taken? You and I would not be here right now, the events would have been far too major and World history would have taken a completely different course.

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    Ok now turn right and walk down the Via Sacra towards the 'Arch of Septimius Severus'.
      About 3/4 of the way down the 'Portico of Gaius and Lucius' just on the otherside of the short fence you will come across a marble circle ring (2.4m diameter) flush with the ground with a small stone plaque (in Italian) alongside it.
    This Shrine marks the spot where the 'Cloaca Maxima' (Great Drain/Sewer) enters the Roman Forum.
      Romans even in Julius Caesar's day didn't know the real origins or actual purpose of this shrine.
      Traditionally (legend, myth) it goes back to Romulus' co-ruling King 'Titus Tatius' founding this cult and shrine.   According to Livy, Cloacina was one of the titles of Venus. This name comes from the verb "cluere" (to purify or cleanse). The myth of the foundation of her shrine is related to the Roman-Sabine War.   Pliny: At the time of the foundation of Rome myrtles (evergreen shrub, nice aroma) grew here. Before going into battle because of the Rape of the Sabine Women both sides laid down their arms and purfied themselves with the myrtle. At that time a river/stream flowed thru the Forum which marked the boundary between these two warring peoples.   Centuries later a coin seems to show one statue in the shrine holding a *myrtle* branch and the other a sword.   So it seems that this myth or fact about this shrine does go back to Romulus' time (i.e. Myrtle Branch).   But they are fairly certain that originally it does go back to at least the 1st phase of the 'Cloacina Maxima' open canal (early 600BC?). When this shrine was dedicated simply to 'Cloacina' (Sacrum Cloacina) which was the divinty of the 'Cloaca' as in 'Cloaca Maxima'.   Over time the shrine somehow became identified with Venus and called 'Venus Cloacina'.
      It was an open-air circular shrine with 2 female cult statues (Venus and Cloacina) standing atop it enclosed by a short metal balustrade (fence).
      It rests directly over the stone vaulted 'Cloaca Maxima' in 8 layers of stone. The 1st layers were to probably bring it up to groundlevel when the Cloaca Maxima
    was built, the other layers were to keep it at groundlevel as the Forum level rose due to over-paving the Forum Sq., the Via Sacra and bldgs being rebuilt over earlier ones (The marble ring, the Forum Sq. and the section of the Via Sacra you are standing on dates to Augustus' era 2000yrs ago).
      The nearby plaque (in Italian) tells the story of a Father's honor killing of his daughter at this location in 451BC. I have written a trip-report of this event and posted it here

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    Walter, this is great...I think I mentioned a couple of months ago on a post that I wanted you for my guide when I went to Rome in Sept! I did take a tour of the Forum and thought of you when the guide talked about the "board games," as I had your previous post on those. I'm keeping this for my next trip to Rome, when I hope I'll be able to follow your tour. Thanks.

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    Thanks :).
      Ok, still standing in front of the 'Shrine of Venus Cloacina' look to your left, see that small group of small trees alongside the Via Sacra you're standing on (~20m away on the same side of the Via Sacra as the Shrine of Venus Cloacina-it's the very western end of the Portico of Gaius and Lucius).
      Walk-over to it. Beneath the tree is a small modern-day custodian/guard shack, this shack was an ancient small brick bldg adapted/rebuilt into this custodian hide-out :).   This bldg is presumed in some guides/maps to be the 'Temple of Janus', but it is *not* this Temple.
      This brick shack and nearby brick remains were part of a unknown larger structure built over and in front of this end of the Portico's steps in the late-2C or 3C AD.
      Actually no trace of this Janus Temple has ever been found. But step over to the left and look towards the Curia Julia (that big intact brick bldg), on the rightside of the Curia is the street called the Argiletum (remember the street I mentioned when we were on the sidewalk outside the Forum). And to the right of that street is the Western end of the Basilica Aemilia.
     The Temple was in that area or just possibly slightly beyond in the Forum of Nerva. Different sources have it moving around in that area over the years due to building projects like the early Basilica Aemilia (179BC), Curia Julia (moved during the 94AD reconstruction and possibly now 4-headed looking out to the 4 corners of the World), Forum of Nerva (97AD) and in 193AD moved to in *front* of the Curia as a smaller but a totally bronze shrine. Another source said it was always in the exact same location.
      Ok now if you're interested in this site that you can't see or even know where it once was even located, have a seat on that laid-down column in the shade alongside the custodian's shack and read on :).   But before you sit down look into the fenced-off area behind the Custodian Shack. You will see a set of columns (8) laid side-by-side, some/all were once honorary columns placed on top to the Rostra, which we will get to later.
      There were 5 columns atop the Rostra, a taller one in the center and two shorter ones on each side. They were 'Rose-Pink Aswan' and placed in this area during early excavations, so look for identical sized rose-pink columns *in this general* area.
      This is an early photo (before the custodian shack was built and the trees planted) showing the brick remains basically 2 walls of the so-called Temple and the columns are to the right.
     Ok, it probably wasn't an actual Temple, it was most likely a Shrine (Sacellum) and usually called 'Janus Geminus'. Geminus refered to Janus' 2 faces, like in this marble statue   Janus was the Roman God of Doors and Beginnings. WOW big deal right?...can't even find his Shrine and now ya tell me he's a Door God :) !!!   Think of the doors as passageways to the Gods. Whatever God you pray too, you call upon Janus first and offer a libation to him to open the Door so your prayers can get thru. He was also called upon before making a sacrifice.
      He's also considered the gatekeeper of Heaven and Hell. He was also called 'Divom Deus' which is a very ancient Latin and means 'The God's God' and his image has been found on some very ancient coins plus ancient lists of Gods put him right up there by the top. So this God have been around for quite a while.
      But once again by the time of the Late-Republic/Early Imperial Age (~2000yrs ago) the actual origin of this God was lost. But he still has his major job besides being a doorman :) and that is keeping War confined within his Shrine during the rare times of peace.   Janus because he is a very early Roman-age God would have had a wooden Shrine/Temple but his statue was of bronze.      One unlikely legend is that during the Roman-Sabine Wars when the Sabines under Titus Tatius (later co-ruler/king with Romulus) were winning, Janus unleashed a flood of hot water from his Shrine driving back the Sabines. So the Shrine pre-dates the founding of Rome.  Another version of this story is the shrine was built later to Janus for his intervention in this battle. I assume just after the founding of Rome (753BC).   The legend I like is; After the Roman-Sabine War when Romulus and Tatius made peace and combined their two tribes as one. These two Kings built this Shrine to mark this tribal union.   I like this version because: A two headed God, one facing Romulus' Romans on the Palatine Hill and the other facing Tatius' Sabines on the Quirinal Hill? Also each end of the shrine has it's own door, so there is not a front or back of this shrine, each entrance is equal.   And the final legend is that it was built by the 2nd King of Rome (Numa Pompilius) sometime after 715BC. It was a Janus War/Peace Shrine, the doors would be left open in time of war and closed in time of peace. This door custom lasted thru-out it's existance as a double-doored shrine.   And after ~470 years of so, they finally got to shut the doors :), in 235BC after the First Punic War. And then a couple of centuries later when Augustus kicks Antony and Cleopatra's butts back to Egypt after the 'Battle of Actium' in 30BC.
      Augustus gets to close the doors a couple of more times during his reign also.
      Of course long before this time the Shrine is not longer wooden but is built of stone blocks with large bronze grates for windows/walls and 2 sets of large double bronze doors. Plus it is also possible that the exposed stone was clad in bronze.
    It's said that the original ancient bronze statue is still within the shrine. Which BTW had it hands & fingers some how arraigned to make the number 355 which was the number of days in the ancient Roman calendar. After Julius Ceasar reformed the calender they were changed to reflect the number 365. He also holds a key in one hand (Key: God of Doors) and a staff in the other (Staff: authority and being a guide) .    Nero put this Shrine on a coin showing that he closed the doors during his reign but this was more PR than truth (unresolved Parthian War).   There was another set of double doors at the other end, which when both sets were open would make this shrine like a passageway. They also believe this shrine didn't have a roof.
      That is a wreath over the door and the coin inscription PACE P R TERRA MARIQ PARTA IANVM CLVSIT means "The Peace of the Roman People having been established on Land and Sea, he closed Janus", "he" being Nero.
      The doors were reopened a few years later for the 66AD Jewish War.   Back to Emperor Augustus: Augustus revitalized the popularity in this Shrine, he after-all did get to shut the doors 3x during his reign and as a PR hound he would put today's politicians too shame :).   And the poet Virgil even helped him invent a new tradition/ritual for this Shrine.
        Using the Consul (Senate President) to open and close the Shrine's doors because the Consul always left the Senate by way of the Argiletum and passed right by this Shrine.  "There are twin Gates of War, for by that name men call them and they are hallowed by men's awe and the dread presence of heartless Mars. A hundred bars of bronze and iron's tough, everlasting strength, close them, and Janus, never moving from that threshold, is their guard. When the senators have irrevocably decided for battle, the consul himself, a figure conspicuous in Quirine Toga of State and Gabine Cincture, unbolts these gates, and their hinge-posts groan, it is he who calls the fighting forth, then the rest of their manhood follows, and the bronze horns, in hoarse assent, add their breath". [Later he writes about closing the doors] "The terrible iron-constricted Gates of War shall shut and safe within them shall stay the godless and ghastly Lust of Blood, propped on his pitiless piled armory, and still roaring from gory mouth, but held fast by a hundred chains of bronze knotted behind his back".      So *everything* points too the gates being shut to keep War in during peace-time. But oddly Ovis and Horace seemingly claim that the gates were closed to keep Peace in?

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    Now walk over to the 'Niger Lapis' or 'Black Stone'. It's that small fenced-in area (3m x 4m) in front of the Curia and the big Arch and alongside the Via Sacra.
      Peak down the closed-off stairs to the area beneath the 'Niger Lapis'. That is the 'Volcanal', it was an open-air 'Shrine to Vulcan' which we'll get to.
      Ok now stand on the rightside of the fenced-off 'Niger Lapis' facing the Curia Julia. Notice that the Curia was built at a slight angle so that it is directly facing the Niger Lapis/Volcanal and not the Forum Square.
    Now there is nothing remaining of the Comitium at this level, so we have to go back in time and sink down to the level of the Volcanal. The Forum is a marsh again and this is dry flat ground slightly higher than the marsh.   You are now standing exactly where Rome began it's 1st expansion by making peace and merging with the Sabines after the Rape of the Sabine Women battle. And this is where they met. Comitium is from the Latin verb 'comire' which means 'meet'.
     Picture this while looking to the left of the Curia at that church. The 1st Comitium was like a US football field but more square than rectangular, the sides are ~91m/300ft and you are standing at the goalpost [ . ] at the southern end.
      Think of it as a Town Square/Common where perhaps in the very beginning the male elders (heads of families) would meet and decide on public policy.   Later Rome is divided into many districts called Curiae and representatives from each one assemble in the Comitium (large scale public voting takes place in the Forum). But they are still under a King's rule until 509BC.
     This outdoor rectangular/square Comitium is a consecrated or sacred area founded by a priest's Augury. Its 4 sides face the 'Four Cardinal Points of Heaven' and its also marked off by ritual pits (21 have been found, called 'Pozzi Rituali' and covered by stone slabs).
      Later the 3rd Regal King (Tullus Hostilius ~673BC) puts a screen or fence around the Comitium.  Tullus Hostilius also enlarges an earlier temple and makes it into the 1st Curia (Senate bldg) and it was called the Curia Hostilia after him. Politicians behind closed doors...nothing good can come of that:). But now they can have outdoor and indoor meetings regardless of the weather. The remains of this Curia are located beneath that church. It lasted although rebuilt a few times until 52BC when a Mob had a funeral riot over the murder of Clodius. They grabbed everything wooden in the area and built a funeral pyre for Clodius and the Curia Hostilia and other nearby bldgs went up in flames, either accidental but probably on purpose.   This Curia that burnt down in 52BC was actually called the 'Curia Cornelia'. The 'Curia Hostilia' stood for centuries but was too small for the 600 Senators.
      So ~80BC Sulla torn it down and built a Curia twice the size. After it was burnt down a descendant of Sulla (Faustus Sulla) rebuilt it.
      But just a few years later Julius Ceasar built his Curia Julia and turned Sulla's Curia into the 'Temple of Felicitas'.   So it's usually just refered too as the Curia Hostilia because the Curia Cornelia was so short-lived (30+yrs vs Centuries) and occupied the same location.
    [The Basilica Porcia (shown in Photo 2 below) was the 1st basilica built in Rome. It was built by Cato in 184BC for judicial and business purposes. It was also burnt down with the Curia and was likely never rebuilt as it is never mentioned again after 52BC.   Also the 'Senaculum' shown in that photo was just an unofficial outdoor meeting & waiting area where the Senators would assemble before entering the Comitium/Curia area together.]
      Everything political happened here and was announced from here (Rostra) for 700yrs until Julius Caesar moved the Rostra to the Forum and built a new Senate Bldg (Curia Julia). After Caesar's death and the Civil War, Augustus became Emperor (27BC) and the Senate there-after would be under the thumb of Emperors, like the early Kings of Rome (pre-509BC). But the Senate did order a few Emperors to be whacked (killed; I just like the Soprano/Mafia term :) ), like Nero.
    The Empire of Rome was born here and the decisions that made it one of the greatest empires on Earth were made here.   From the 1st Iron-Age tribal gathering to later aristocratic Senate meetings, voting, receiving foreign envoys, criminal trials complete with scourgings/whippings and executions (a sexual encounter with a Vestal Virgin would get the man whipped to death here), priests/augers looking for signs from the Gods like from a flight of birds, animal sacrifices and possibly human (those found beneath the Forum in the marsh?) along with banquets, games and theatrical shows.
      Where you are standing and to the right of you they built a speakers platform (later called a Rostra) at the time of the founding of the Republic (509BC). Possibly wooden at first and later made of stone.   In 338 BCE the sharp bronze beaks (Rostra) of ships captured in the Latin War, were mounted on the front of the speakers platform, thus giving it its name. Gaius Maenius captured them and was Consul, his column location is shown in Photo 2 'Columna Maenia'.
     On the otherside of the Volcanal (beneath the Niger Lapis) stood the Graecostasis. It was a raised platform just like the Rostra, and it was intended for ambassadors from other nations, mostly Greek, attending the meetings in the Comitium.   
      ~300-250BC the Comitium was made circular like the Greek Ekklesiastéria (the Romans are infatuated with the Greeks around this time:). It's ~50m across and like a small Colosseum, with rings of seats going down. In the center is an open area like a small stage or arena.   The Graecostasis and the Rostra are still a part of this new Comitium and the Lapis Niger is also incorporated into this circular structure.
      The diagrams show this circular Comitium and the Curia as one bldg. I think this Ekklesiastéria was still outside but surrounded a roofed colonnade? I have read of an awning put over it and the earlier Comitium for protection from the summer sun. But I wonder if in any of the later rebuilds if it was finally roofed over? BTW this roofed Ekklesiastéria/Curia is shown as the Senate Bldg in 'HBO's Rome', nice but wrong it was already destroyed in this movie's timeline.    
     Also now the Rostra is curved to fit in with this new circular Comitium (this will come-up later at the Forum Rostra). With this new Rostra the speaker can address those in the circular Comitium and if he turns around he can address the people gathered in the Forum also (Photo 1 Photo 2 ).
     In front of the Rostra was fixed the bronze 'Twelve Tablets of Law' (~450BC). And on occasion the heads of those who crossed men like Marius and Sulla.   Cicero delivered his 2nd and 3rd orations against Catiline from this Rostra.
      Also in the Comitium area was the 'Ficus Ruminalis' the Fig Tree that Romulus and Remus were found under, it was magicly moved here:) from it's site near the Tiber River. In 296BC the famous bronze statue of the She-Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus (in the Capitoline Museum) was placed beneath this tree. And as time went on there were statues everywhere:), even a couple of stucco wall paintings taken from Sparta and framed in wood.
      An Oracle commanded the Romans during the 'Samnite Wars' to put up statues to the "wisest and bravest Greeks", Pythagoras & Alcibiades were chosen and placed here.
      In 263BC Consul Messalla put up a large painting of a battle he won over King Hiero.
      In 260BC Admiral C. Duilius got a statue on a column decorated with the beaks (Columna Rostraia) of defeated enemy ships placed near the Rostra.
     The Comitium also served as the official clock of the city. The Herald of the Consul would stand on the stairs of the Curia Hostilia, and when he saw the sun precisely between the Rostra and the Graecostasis he would announce that it was midday, and when he saw the sun between the Columna Maenia and the Carcer, he would announce sunset. The hours of the day would be approximately determined from these fixed points in time. The Romans only learnt more accurate time keeping from the Greeks in S. Italy later. The first Sundial (solarium) was brought to the Comitium in 263 BCE from Sicily but because the difference in latitudes it wasn't accurate (99yrs later they get an accurate one). I'm assuming it still was in front of this Comitium Rostra because Cicero says it was a common meeting place "I'll meet you at the Sundial by the Rostra or Forum" and the older one was placed there with the newer one nearby.  
     Still standing next to the Niger Lapis I'll point out some stuff:). Directly in front of the steps of the Curia are the (flush to the ground) remains of a round base for a fountain. So picture a very large fountain in front of the Curia in ancient times. Some claim it's the fountain basin of the Piazza del Quirinale's fountain? The Quirinale's fountain basin was used as a cattle-trough in the Roman Forum until it was brought to it's new location by Pope Pius VII (~1800).
    To the left-front of the fountain is a honorific base for a missing statue. The inscription on the side facing you reads: 'Marti invicto patri et aeternae urbis suae conditoribus' in the first 3 lines. But notice the 4th line is etched out and the 5th line reads 'Invictvs•Avg'. The 4th line had Emperor Maxentius' name on it, this is called a 'Damnatio Memoriae'. It means all trace of your existence is erased; your statues destroyed, your bldgs renamed, your coins melted down, your inscriptions erased, etc. The best example will be on that arch behind you. Constantine beat Maxentius in battle, became Emperor and issued a Damnatio Memoriae on Maxentius.   This base is from Emperor Maxentius (~310AD) who revived the cult worship of Romulus and dedicated this missing statue to the God Mars (Marti), the 'Father of Romulus'. Note that it is also directly facing the Lapis Niger. The Emperor also named his son Romulus who died very young.
      Now look to your left in front of the arch, on the right end is the large base of an equestrian (missing) statue. Dedicated by Constantius II to commemorate his victory over the usurper Magnentius in 352AD.
      Behind you-over your left shoulder across the Via Sacra actually in the Forum is the Decennalia Base. It commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Tetrarchy (303AD) when Emperor Diocletian split the Roman Empire in two with a Emperor and co-Emperor in the East and another set in the West. It was just one of four statue bases of a complex monument. One to each Augustus and Caesar and one to the God Jupiter.
     Also behind you and over your right shoulder in the Forum is a large marble inscription on a base. It comemorates the victory of the Emperors Arcadius, Honorius and Theodosius over the hordes (Goths) led by Radagaisus in 405AD. What is noteworthy is the erased 5th & 6th line from the bottom. It once named the campaign's conquering general Stilicon in the 5th line (I assume the 6th line was also part of his dedication?). But his fame was short lived, Emperor Honorius ordered him executed 3 years later and a Damnatio Memoriae on his name.
      If you look 45deg to your right you will see 3 other statue bases by the custodian shack/Janus. The 3rd one is totally destroyed, the middle one is intact and it's dedicated to 'Emperor Constantius II' by Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus.
      The 1st one is partially destroyed but has scant traces of a dedication to Emperor Julianus. Julianus was the last Pagan Emperor of Rome and had a Christian 'Damnatio Memoriae' put out on him and that *might* account for the pedestal's destruction? And possibly the 3rd base's destruction also because it was a Pagan dedication? Seeing that the middle Christian Emperor's base is completely untouched it's a very good possibility. 
      Constantius II is *the* Emperor Constantine's 2nd son. Julianus father was the half-brother of Constantine. So these 2 bases are cousins :) but it's a disfunctional family.
      Constantine dies in 337AD, Constantius II comes home and a large number of his relatives and others are killed. It's claimed that it was due to the infighting of two Christian cults after Constantine's death but Constantius very likely had a hand in it.   The only males is his bloodline to survive is Julianus and his half-brother Gallus because they are very young children, their father was also killed. Gallus years later as an adult will be killed by Constantius for treason (he was guilty and his wife put him up to it).
      Constantius keeps a watchful eye on Julianus as he grows-up and into adulthood. But he gives him no reason to worry about revenge or his taking over as a blood relative of Constantine.  Julianus studies Christianity and later Paganism in Greece. He is quite scholarly and practices Christianity but is a 'closet Pagan'.  Constantius made him a general and sent him to repel invasions in Gaul. He even married Constantius' sister.  But Julianus was too successful and Constantius feared that he was getting too powerful and tried to break-up his command by sending many of his troops to Persia.  Julianus troops mutinied and declared Julianus Emperor in 360. But before the 2 armys could meet in battle Constantius dies of fever (361) and Julianus became Emperor.
      So a Civil War is averted and Julianus comes out of the closet. His goal is too return Rome to Paganism and for the Roman Empire to return to its past glory.   He enacts anti-Christian laws along with a anti-Christian PR campaign.
      But he dies 2 yrs later while on military campaign when he catches a spear in the abdomen during a guerilla raid.   So in 363AD Julianus died as the last Pagan to rule over Rome.
      This is a translation I found online of what is written on the statue base of Constantius II. Orfitus is the 2nd most powerful man in the Empire under Constantius. He's a stand-up guy with a good career behind him and was probably biting his tongue when he dedicated this to Constantius.
    "To him who has enlarged the Roman empire, our Master Flavius Julius Constantius, the Greatest, who conquers and triumphs over the entire world, Augustus.
      His Excellency Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus, in his second term as Praefectus Urbi, in his third as high interrogating judge; devoted to the emperor's numen and majestas".
    ***These scant remains to the right of the Niger Lapis have baffled me I have found nothing in any books, on websites and have even posted on history and archaeology newsgroups with no luck. It's a very prestigious spot just by being in the Comitium, in front of the Curia and alongside the Lapis Niger.  As you can see all that remains is one corner (~2mx1.5m) and lone short straight section (~1m) of marble which I'm certain formed a curb around this structure and this curb was slotted to hold upright marble slabs forming a fence around this structure. Exactly like the Lapis Niger has around it.
      And within this rectangle/square is a small concrete/rubble pile. That concrete pile is very likely the remains of the concrete podium of this structure which was probably marble faced.
      The structure could not exist there (on *that* paving) anytime before the Sulla?-Julius Caesar-Augustus era. Perhaps because it doesn't *seem* to be mentioned anywhere it's from late in the Empire? Like the so-called 'Temple of Janus' brick structure, it's in a prime location and was built sometime late 2C to 3C AD but no one knows what it was for.
      Actually 'HBO's Rome' got me thinking about this scant ruin. Quite a few times it showed a fat Herald annoucing the News from a podium (speaker's platform) in front of the Curia. Even though it was the Curia Hostilia which was destroyed by that time.
      In 193AD the 'Temple of Janus Geminus' was moved to "in front of the Curia". It was a smaller shrine than the previous ones and completely made of bronze.  A concrete podium to elevate a small bronze shrine? With a fence to make a sacred boundary?  
     Also the early Comitium had a Tribunal (where a judge would hear specific types of court cases in the open). But *that* Tribunal was moved before this paving over was done. Plus it would have been mentioned for sure.
      If I had to bet or guess on what it was, I'd put my money on the 193AD 'Temple of Janus'.
      It was placed somewhere in front of the Curia and there is not alot of room there. We can see the remains of the large fountain directly if front of Curia's steps and the Lapis Niger. But no recorded Temple of Janus remains, so why not there?   And from across the Forum it would architecturally frame the Curia nicely. Large fountain in front, facing the small *short* Lapis Niger and slightly to the side a beautiful small bronze Janus Temple.

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      Ok, you are still standing next to the 'Niger Lapis' (that fenced-off black paving in front of the Curia).
      'Niger Lapis' means 'Black Stone' which was put over part of the 'Volcanal' area which is a 'Shrine to Vulcan' aka 'Volcanus' (a Shrine is an open air structure whereas a Temple is roofed bldg).
      The Volcanal Shrine was cut-down heightwise and then paved over, the Niger Lapis marks it's partial underground location.   The Volcanal was discovered and excavated in 1899 and that is where those fenced-off stairs lead too. You can peak down the stairs but you won't see too much.
      You'll also notice squares of thick glass blocks in the pavement nearby, those are skylights for further underground Comitium excavations.  
     The Volcanal was probably the oldest man-made site in the Forum. Some parts of it that remain today are from the 6th possibly 7th Century BC.   But it is possible some claim that an even earlier Shrine existed there before Romulus and the Founding of Rome.   They were burying their dead in the Forum marsh and even pitching in a few live ones :( (sacrifices? capital punishment?) before Romulus' time. So it's very possible that a type of shrine existed here on this higher dry ground.   And some attribute this site's founding and cult worship to Romulus. But it's usually attributed to Titus Tatius the Sabine King who fought and later co-ruled with Romulus.   So during or before the founding of Rome we have a 'Shrine to Vulcan' here. But by Julius Caesar's day and even earlier the *exact* meaning or purpose of this site was already lost.  
     Vulcan was very likely not an original Roman God and was probably taken from the Etruscans. It's also possible that this Etruscan God was originally a gentler God of the changing seasons and plant/crop growth but later changed by the Romans to a Fire God.   Vulcan is a God of Fire who also has control of volcanos, earthquakes and lightning.   Where the Vestal Virgins Fire was good (the home hearth, warmth, light, protection, cooking, etc), Vulcans Fire was the destructive and devouring side. But appeasing a God like Vulcan thru worship and sacrificing keeps him happy and a happy Fire-God doesn't burn-up ya stuff :).
      Plus these boys are Iron-Age so worshipping a God who forges your weapons with his fire keeps you ahead in the Arms Race :).
      Vulcan also had a bad-boy son named Cacus. He was a fire-breathing monster that lived on a Roman hill and was killed by Hercules.   
      Many years later when the Romans are going ga-ga over the Greeks they merge their Vulcan with the older and cooler Greek God of fire Hephaestus. Hephaestus is a Fire-God/Blacksmith who lives and works under a Volcano (the Roman word that we still use today). He makes everything for the Gods from their weapons & armor, Zeus' Lighting Bolts, Pandora's Box, Archilles' Armor, etc.
      Bottomline: It seems *very likely* that this site was the *1st*
    religious shrine/temple from 'Day 1' of Rome's beginning or even before. The worship of Fire and Fire-Gods goes back to the dawn of civilization.   But even for these Iron-Age tribes a Fire God would still be 'The Main Man' :), cooks ya food, forges your weapons, keeps ya warm and keeps the wolves away.
      Vulcan later becomes one of the 12 main Roman Gods and has a couple of festivals in his honor.
        There is a minor one in June where fishman offer fish to Vulcan. But the main state sponsored festival/holiday is called the Volcanalia and is held on August 23.
      In Rome live fish are thrown into bonfires as an offering to avoid his wrath, these fish are always from the Tiber River where the water is used to put-out fires in Rome. It reads to me that the Volcanal had offerings of fish and possibly larger animals at it's Shrine but it was more low-key and religious; whereas bonfires in the other parts of the city were wilder party festivals (like the US 4th of July).
      On August 23, 79AD the Roman towns around Mt. Vesuvius would also be celebrating Volcanalia and making offerings to Vulcan. The next day Vesuvius blows its top and becomes an active Volcano, the residents must have believed it was the wrath of Vulcan upon them!   Vulcan is also the major God and cult in Ostia (Rome's seaport) where the major warehouses store Rome's foodstuffs (food+fire=famine).   There is also a 'Temple to Vulcan' (215BC) in Rome's Campus Martius. This is where they want the many 'offering fires' (bonfires), away from the city's central grand and flammable structures.   Also if you search for 'Volcanal' you might sometimes find it placed behind the Rostra and alongside the Arch of Septimius Severus. During the 19thC Forum excavations the 'Altar of Saturn' was mistakenly thought to be the Volcanal.
      Well you can't see this Shrine unless you hop the fence and go down the stairs, if you hop the fence you'll need 2 things, a flashlight and the phone number of a good Rome Trespass Lawyer :).   But this model in the 'Museo Nazionale Romano' at the 'Baths of Diocletian' shows the open-air shrine. This museum is across from the Termini Train Station and often overlooked but it's a must for history buffs.
      Now stand behind the 'Niger Lapis' facing the Forum, the Stairs are in the right rear corner and I want you to stand in the left rear corner facing that tall marble base with the erased 'Stilicon' inscription in the Forum I mentioned earlier.   This is roughly the direction that this shrine is facing and the 'Niger Lapis' only covers-over part of it. Look at the photo: The Shrine is U-shaped like this [TT] and in front of it is a rectangular Altar. The Niger Lapis corner where you are standing is over the lower right corner of that structure that is the left part of the U or this [T section.
      It extends over to the lower right corner of the Altar and covers-over the entire right section of the U or this part T] and that square and circular object.
      It also extends over a well (not shown in photo) that is below the right lower corner of the right part of the U. This square Well I'm guessing is a 'Pozzi Rituali' (Ritual Pit, there are quite a few in the Forum. It's believed that they were for discarding the remains of animal sacrifices), if so it's possibly that this is the 1st one in the Forum. {If So} The Altar in front of the Volcanal would be where the animals were sacrificed by the Priests.
      The Priest(s) would then look at the animal's entrails/intestines and organs for a sign from the Gods and announce their findings good/bad, yes/no, pro/con etc.
      Example: On the day Julius Caesar was murdered the Priests told him the
    bird they sacrificed for him had no heart, so a bad omen (stay home and don't go to the Senate Meeting).
      I've read that the entrails/organs are then burned. Of the pits excavated in the Forum nothing was found in them except one had some broken pottery in it, which could be there for any reason. So if these Pozzi Rituali were used for discarding the sacifices there should be animal bones in them I'd imagine? I wonder if *just* the entrails/organs (which after all that is where the Gods intervened with their Signs) were sacredly burned and then deposited into the pits?   In 2000yrs ashes mixed in soil would be had to find and even if the intact organs were dumped into these pits their evidence would be long gone?   The other Pozzi Rituali we'll see later are 6 or more pits in a straight line except for the ones (I believe) at the Arch of Augustus which a in a square like this [: :].
      So in the photo model you can see what is left of the actual horse-shoe shaped Shrine.
      It just seems odd to me that this ancient shrine was not only covered-over but also
    partly demolished. It was destroyed by the 390BC Gaul invasion & torching of Rome but rebuilt.
      Why did they cover it over it? (it was *very probably* paved-over by Julius Caesar's reconstruction and burying of the Comtium in the mid-late 40'sBC although some attribute it wrongly to Sulla's ~80BC reconstruction) Caesar paved-over the area at a higher level but he could have left this shrine intact at the lower level and fenced-off with steps down to it or disassembled the stone block shrine and reassembled it on the newer pavement?
      Also the shrine would have to be cut-down to be paved-over but it looks like it was destroyed alot more than need be.   Romans were fearful of destroying shrines and temples to their Gods, that whole wrath of god thing.
      Julius Caesar was a dictator and he could get what he wanted. But I've never read anything negative about him doing this nor was it ever rebuilt after his reign to applease the God Vulcan.   It's also odd that the Lapis Niger only covers around one-third of the actual shrine (that small stone pedastal? in the center of the 'U' and basically the entire right side of the 'U') but does cover over the Cippis and Pillar (the square and round objects in the photo) and also that Well (pozzi rituali?) I mentioned.
      So was that area and those objects the most sacred (esp the Cippus)? Or is there another reason for this small Black Pavement site? It did become known as an unlucky or ill-omened place.   That Shrine is from ~350-300BC but it replaced an earlier one. It's believed that the Shrine was used as the earliest speaker's platform (rostra) for the Comitium and also for public assemblies in the Forum (the Shrine & Comitium was higher than the Forum back then).   And they're fairly certain that early VIP cremations were done before this Shrine.   
      We don't know what this Shrine looked like before it was chopped down but it's *claimed* that each side of the 'U' had a Lion's statue on it. Perhaps this is from an ancient source that said there was a Lion statue in honor of Romulus' stepfather (Faustulus) located around there?   And one source *claims* that the center section of the 'U' is a grave? Also notice that the sides of the 'U' look like tombs, at least to me. Later day Romans believed that this Shrine was supposed to be where Romulus was to be buried but his body was never found. Remember this is the location I mentioned early on where one tradition claims Romulus was killed here by the Senators and his body was cut-up and snuck away hidden beneath the Senators togas. The modern Italian inscription in the staircase wrongly claims it's the Tomb of Romulus.   Also it's believed that Romulus' stepfather Faustulus was buried here in his place.
      And also that it is the grave of Hostus Hostilius whose was the grandfather of the third Roman King Tullus Hostilius.  
     The circular column base in the photo is from the 3C-BC and probably supported a statue.
      The square base in the photo website above is an inscribed tufa stone block called a Cippus (an inscribed upright stone often used as gravestones aka a stela). Cippus model photos   This Cippus dates from the 6thC (570-550BC) some even say earlier (7thC).   The Cippus inscription is the oldest Latin writing ever found and it's style is called Boustrophedonic meaning it's read up and down in alternating directions.
      Seeing that its height was cut-down for the new pavement only 1/3 to 1/2 of each line survives.
      It seems that the inscription is a set of laws for a religious rite where the King and his Herald perform sacred duties involving 'beasts of burden' or yolked animals.
      They believe that it means that the King sacrified animals (bull, oxen. etc) at this Shrine. And because his Herald is with him it's believed it was in connection with the Comitium meetings (an opening sacrifice?).
      Some think that the Cippus' original location was atop that small rectangular stone block in the middle of the 'U'. And it was moved to a lower location so that more of it could be saved due to the cutting-down of the site for the pavement.
    Ok now, look to the Arch and past it to the modern stairs and the scant remains of the Temple of Concord on the left of the stairs at the base of that large bldg
    from where you are standing next to the Niger Lapis. That area area was called the 'Area Volcani' and was part of this Shrine's sacred area.   It was an large open area but probably marked or fenced-off. It had quite a few inscriptions and statues within it. The earliest was said to be a bronze quadriga (chariot drawn by 4 horses statue) from Romulus.
      A statue of Horatius Cocles (early military hero) who's statue was in the Comitium but after if was struck by lightning it was moved here.   And oddly a player who was performing in the Circus Maximus and was struck down by a lightning bolt was buried here and had a statue atop a column over his grave. Lightning strikes were considered a sign from the Gods and in his player's circumstance it was considered a good sign it seems :). Also Vulcan had lightning in his realm of control, so perhaps that is why the both ended up here?  
     In 304BC a bronze 'Shrine to Concordia' was erected in this area. And also history records two 'Rains of Blood' falling in this area, the last in 181BC. And if you couldn't guess it's a bad sign from the Gods :).   An ancient Lotus and Cypress tree also grew in this area, the Lotus tree was huge.
     Over the years this Area Volcani shunk in size like when the 'Temple of Concord' was built ~367BC.
      A statue base has been found (nearby the Curia) dedicated to Vulcan from Augustus in 9BC. But it seems this God although one of the 'Big 12' was kind-of pushed to the back of the pack and his cult worship put on the back burner.
      Emperor Maxentius 306-312AD tried to revive this cult (his nearby pedestal base facing the Niger Lapis) but if he had any sucess it would be short lived, Christian Emperor Constantine kicks his butt and takes over.
    NIGER LAPIS: So Julius Caesar (mid-to-late 40BC) paves-over the Comitium and buries the all the remains. He did this in his reorganization of the Forum, with a new Senate Bldg (Curia Julia, that you see before you) and a new Rostra in a new location at the western end of the Forum Sq.   And in this new pavement he puts in the 4mx3m Black Stone (Niger Lapis) site.
      It is actually a 'bluish-gray limestone' and the short side facing the Forum isn't exactly square for some reason.   And as I have already mentioned it covers about 1/3 of the Shrine including the small stone base in the center of the 'U', the Cippus, the short circular column which perhaps held a small statue and the Well (pozzi rituali?).
    Why *just* that area and those objects, who knows. If it was to revere the Cippus you would think in would be in the exact center which it is not (it's centered but at the top of this rectangular site. Plus by doubling the size you could cover the complete site, it's only paving stones after all.
      And why bury and partially destroy such an ancient and revered site in the 1st place?
      And now after the Niger Lapis is built it becomes know as an inauspicious (ill-omened, unlucky, evil, unfavorable) place.   The theories are that *that* underground section in Caesar's day was believed to be either a grave or crime scene :).   Either Romulus or his foster father Faustulus or the 3rd King of Rome's grandfather was believed to be buried there.   Or that is the location where Romulus was murdered by the Senators.
      Julius Caesar has the Curia Julia built *directly* facing the Niger Lapis and not square to the Forum Square as it should be. So this site was revered by the Romans in his day.   In 9AD after a fire Emperor Augustus has this whole area repaved except for the Niger Lapis.
      You'll notice that the Niger Lapis is one pavement level below the surrounding pavement. Augustus also put the slotted curb around it which held upright marble slabs (only the southside survives) which formed a fence around the Niger Lapis.
      Whether it was fenced-off or open originally I do not know but it probably was being a sacred site.

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    Walter, I keep adding your additional posts to my Word file for this Walking Tour. Do you think three days will be enough for me to get through it all? :-d

    Very interesting stuff, I appreciate the time you take to post so much good information!

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    Ok now still standing by the Niger Lapis look at the tall intact brick bldg (25.2m x 17.6m & 31.6m high), that is the Curia Julia. It was the new Senate Bldg in a new location (replacing the Curia Hostilia whose remains are beneath the church on the left) that was being built by Julius Caesar before his murder in 44BC.
      It doesn't get finished for 15 more years, Rome's kind-of shaky then with the Civil Wars, untrusting internal alliances and that whole Anthony and Cleopatra thing :).  Octavian (Caesar's great-nephew, adopted son and legal heir) finally becomes Emperor Augustus in 31BC.   In August 29BC the finished bldg is inaugurated by Augustus, along with the Temple of Julius Caesar and an extended Rostra that incorporated Caesar's smaller Rostra within it. [FRONT FACADE]
      Ok we'll now try and picture what this bldg looked like, use this modern picture to see the areas I mention in the front of the bldg and this for reconstructed photos of the Curia   See the square holes below the windows in the facade, they supported a roof that was part of and over the columned portico by Augustus.   
      The upper row of holes probably supported a low pitched roof that was over the actual flat portico roof which was supported by the bottom row of holes.
      Whether the original roof was just flat and this additional low pitched roof was added-on by Diocletian or it was always there I don't know. I mention this because the roof is often said to be flat in the original bldg. If it was flat it *might* have been used by Senators and VIPs to stand/sit on like a grandstand to watch events in the Forum or the Comitium below (a common practice in other bldgs for Forum events)? The Curia Bldg on an ancient coin (28BC) shows that the portico extended past both sides of the bldg. Perhaps the portico turned and extended down the rightside of the bldg? The leftside portico probably connected to the Chalcidicum Bldg that was beside the Curia?   A 16C drawing shows a shortened 6 columned portico (8 columns stood *directly* in front of the bldg but the end 2 are gone because the stairs are now also shortened and angled-in at the ends \____/ where they once stood. Also now the portico's roof has a peak /\ which I assume is a later addition (Diocletian?) or an early church replacement?   The portico was finally destroyed when the columns were taken by Cardinal Bellaio in the 16C but the nice doorframe survived.
     The stairs are a modern (1930's) construction, the original stairs went up from the present day ground level to the portico and probably ran the full front length of the Curia and possiby beyond for the portico.
      The large bronze doors (5.9m) are just modern copies of the originals. The originals were moved to the St. John Lateran Church (where you can see them today) in 1660 by Pope Alexander VII using the architect Borromini. The Curia is now a church and was partially below street level, when the doors were removed the inside was filled with dirt and refloored to bring it up to the 1660 street level. ~20ft higher than the pavement you're standing on, before that over the years you had to sometimes walk down steps to the doors and twice these doors were raised-up , once by 3m in 1654 and the windows were blocked-off at that time.   When the doors were being fitted to the Lateran Church a coin of Domitian (81-96AD) was found within the door. The Curia had been restored by Domitian after a fire. Most sources claim these doors were from the Diocletian rebuild after the 283AD fire but this coin seems to disprove that IMO. Perhaps these *are* the original 29BC doors that have just been restored after each fire? If not, they at least seem to date back to Domitian? By Law the doors were always open when the Senate was in session.
       The remains of the door frame is just the basic structure, it was alot more elaborate.
      Each side of the door had a column with a capital holding up a domed pediment, like this TT with a sideways D on top of it. This beautiful frame is gone today but I'm using a 1560AD sketch which I believe shows the original doorframe? Although it is often shown with a triangular /\ pediment in reconstruction drawings?    The 3 windows are original with a southern exposure for the light but they are not on the same level as the side and rear windows.    The bottom part of the bldg was marble-faced meaning marble slabs were attached (revetted) to the brick to make the bldg look like it was a marble block structure and making it alot cheaper to build. The marble-facing only went as high as the portico.   2m to the left of the door and about waist to eye level is a small piece (like this [] ) of this orginal marble facing. It's blocked in the photo by the 2 people standing in front of it.    Above the portico the brick was faced in fine white stucco with lines incised deep into it to make it look just like the marble slab facing, this was even cheaper than marble-facing.   If you look to the very top center of the bldg just below the pediment you will see a short row of this incised stucco (in photo).
    Now look up at the Pediment (triangular roof peak, those brackets below the pediments overhanging parts are called corbels and are travertine). I've read the actual roof was flat (it was wooden) so this is probably just a facade (false front). It is original though as this coin of the Curia from 27-8 BC shows also the portico had more columns (10 should be shown) but it would have been harder to engrave all of them.
    [In coin photo] At the peak of the pediment is a statue of Victory standing on a globe (she has wings and a Military-type Standard? in one hand and a Laurel Wreath in the other) and 2 warrior statues at each end. And as you can see some kind of decorative pole-like objects between them IIIIIII. And within the pediment some kind of scene with a single figure, either statues or perhaps a carved scene in painted stone panels or stucco?   Whatever was up there you can bet it was very beautiful! The statues were probably a shiny bronze and the pediment was brightly painted.
     The Freize below the Pediment is also shown on that coin photo, it reads IMP • CAESAR for 'Imperator Caesar' which is Augustus' title, like 'Leader of the military and Ruler'. This also lets the Senators know "Who's the Boss" :).
      To the left of the Curia was the Chalcidicum built by Augustus and later called the Atrium Minerva (after Emperor Domitian's post-fire rebuild he renames it and puts in a statue of Minerva). It was courtyard with a colonnade on each side possibly used as a records repository and where public notices were posted and some also read aloud. The 'Tribune of the People' stood outside the Curia's open doors listening in and would announce the proceding to the public from the Chalcidicum.   It's remains disappeared when a street (Via Bonella) was put thru there ~1585.
     And to the left of the Chalcidicum was the 'Secretarium Senatus', it was a hall (18x9m) with an apse at one end. It was used for smaller Senate committee meetings (I wonder, SECRETarium = closed door Senate meetings?).
      It was possibly built by Emperor Diocletian (284-305AD), it lies in-between the ruins of the Curia Hostila and that present day Church (Santi Luca e Martina).
      An inscription showed it was restored in 311AD and repaired after the (410) fire in 412.
    Now look to the right of the Curia's door and ~4m up from the ground. See the group of 3 shallow but long niches (2 side by side and 1 below their center).
      Now look to the left of the door, 2 side by side and 1 below the farthest niche on the left. *[You can see them in the photo]*   Those niches were dug-out of the wall for Medieval burial tombs. Notice that would have been just above the ground-level of that time.   Also on the right notice ~2m below those 3 niches a single earlier burial niche?
      On the left notice the niche below the farthest one. It has these 3 large (about the size of a coffee table book) brick-tiles in this niche. Later look closer at these brick-tiles and you can see a 'brick stamp' on them (a 'brick stamp' usually tells by who and when that brick was made).
      These niches have been filled-in with cement during the excavation, I assume for structural reasons. And I also assume the one with the brick-tiles was put back to how it originally looked after that niche was cemented in. So a niche was hacked-out of the wall, the body placed within and then large brick-tiles sealed-up this tomb. Actually just like the earlier Christian Catacomb burials.   These niches today contain no human remains.
      There were also Medieval burials in the concrete core of the front steps and in the Comitium (both were then below ground level). [INTERIOR FLOOR]
      Now let's go inside the Curia, you can only enter a couple of meters though, it's fenced-off.
      As you climb the steps and enter into the Curia I want you to imagine what happened there during Caligula's reign (37-41AD) according to Suetonius.
      Caligula wanted a Senator brutally killed and mauled for his charge of being an enemy of Rome.
      He ordered some Senators to attack him as he enter the bldg. And you don't just say "No" to this whacko!
      As he entered the bldg the Senators attacked and stabbed him with their stylus' (a long metal pen, pointed at one end for ink writing and flattened at the other for smoothing wax which is written on).   Either dead or dying he was then turned-over to the others to be mangled and mauled.
      The man's limbs, members (I don't even want to know :( ) and bowels were dragged thru the streets and piled-up before Caligula...his sadistic cruelty now satisfied!
      As you enter the 1st thing to catch you eye is the *beautiful* floor, it's original from Diocletian's post-283AD fire rebuild.   It's called 'Opus Sectile' and it's one of the best surviving examples of this type floor. It features fancy Rosettes in square panels, alternating with, 2 pairs of connecting pairs of Cornucopias in rectangular panels.
      These are marble slabs with inlays of precious polychrome marbles (porphyry & serpentine).  
     This type of floor replaced mosaic floors in the Late Republician Period and later and was almost exclusively used in public and religious bldgs.
    On each side of the floor are 3 low broad steps paved in Phrygian Purple.
     One source claims that on these steps were placed the Senator's chairs, each side held 5 rows and there were a total of 300 chairs for 300 Senators. There are actually 600 Senators, so for something major when the majority the Senators showed-up they would have to meet in a temple elsewhere.   
    I've also read that the Senators stood while in session because sitting would be a sign of "Greek weakness". Perhaps in the early days but by the time of this bldg you can bet that those rich, powerful, fat-cat Senators were sitting down their fat butts down :).    But this sees the most likely: The 3 Steps were defined by status; 1st Step the most notable, senior, powerful Senators *sitting* down in the front row.   2nd Step the 'up and coming' boys in the middle neither a newbie or a fatcat. Sitting or standing I don't know. 3rd Step the junior least powerful 'newbie' Senators and they *stood* on this slightly wider step.   Pliny The Younger's Consul acceptance speech here ran-on for hours :) but normally a senator's speech was timed by a waterclock.   The Curia would also double as a courtroom for long trials of indicted Governors.
     On the far wall is the 'President's Platform' (that's what the Italian archaeological guide calls it).
      It is where the 2 Senate Consuls (2 Senators elected each year as co-ruling Presidents) would always sit during the Republic. But now in the Imperial Age it is where the Emperor sits when he's presiding over the Senate, when the Emperor isn't there the 2 Consuls sit there.   The statue base on the right is original but the statue is not. It's a porphyry statue possibly of Emperor Trajan that was dug-up behind the Curia.
      That base might have held a statue of 'Goddess of Victory' like the one on the roof. But is that base even in its original location?   If not *perhaps* in that niche in the center of the platform against the wall? This statue I've read was gold, if not at least a golden bronze color.
      It was captured by the Romans in 272BC and Julius Caesar finally brought it to Rome from where ever it was.   Augustus placed it here to celebrate his defeat of Anthony and Cleopatra.   Victory is holding a Laurel Wreath (given to the victorious as a crown) in one hand and a Palm leaf in the other. That is what I've read of this statue but on coins it seems that *this* Curia Victory statue is holding what looks like a Roman Legion Military Standard in place of the Palm Leaf? Augustus was no fool, he had the statue placed so it looked like Victory was descending to crown with the laurel wreath whoever was sitting in the Emperor's chair :).
      The Chair is called a Sella Curulis (Curule Chair), it's an elaborate folding stool for high ranking magistrates. It's also shown on coins as a symbol of legitimate political authority. Augustus (27BC): "He restored the laws and the
    rights of the Roman people"
      Somewhere on or near this platform was the Clipeus Virtutis ('shield of valor') which was a inscripted Golden Shield from the Senate to Augustus (27 BC) for winning the Civil Wars, giving the Republic back to the people and Senate (not really though) and for his valor, clemency, justice and piety.
    [Remember the pedestal bases out front]   Christian Emperor Constantius has this Pagan statue removed, later his Pagan cousin Emperor Julianus puts it back, next Christian Emperor Valentinian II let's it stay. And finally after a long debate St. Ambrosios gets it booted-out for good in 384-5AD.
      But the *Winged* Pagan Goddess Victory has the last laugh, she becomes the Christian winged Angel :).
      These was also an 'Altar of Victory' on the President's Platform and homage was paid to her at the start of each Senate meeting.   The 2 modern doors on each side of the platform exit into the 'Forum of Caesar' which was no accident. He's showing the Senators 'Who's the Man', it's *his Curia and it's named after *his family and these doors open right into *his Forum.
      Now for a short time over the President's Platform there was a huge painting of Emperor Elagabalus (218-222AD) doing his Priestly duties of a sacrifice to his foreign Syrian-Phoenician Sun-God El Gabal.   He's Syrian and his Great-Uncle is Emperor Septimus Severus (his Arch is outside). He looks just like Septimus' son Emperor Caracalla and was probably his illegitimate son.
        He becomes Emperor at 15 and is murdered 4yrs later and he is one of the wacky Emperors who just asks for it.   And he ticks-off the Romans a number of ways like: He orders his Sun-God to replace Jupiter as the #1 Roman God! Marries a Vestal Virgin! Proclaims himself a God! Loves to dress-up as a female prostitute in heavy make-up and proposition passers-by from the Palace. Offers half the Roman Empire to any physician who can equip him with female genitalia! Makes his Mom and Grandmother the 1st female Senators and women aren't even allow inside the bldg!   And besides this painting he wants the Senate to offer sacrifices to both his Sun-God and Victory at the start of each session!   He kills his young cousin because he's afraid he'll be overthrown. His Grandma and his Aunt (also dead kid's mother & grandmother) bribe the Praetorian Guard to kill him.   He's killed crying in his mother's arms while hiding in a latrine on the Palatine Hill, their bodies are thrown into a sewer which they clog-up and then in the Tiber River.   The painting is torn down.

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    [I suggest going to the 'Reconstructed Photos' website above and click-on the 2nd photo for an interior view. That photo is fairly accurate]
    Well the 1st thing you will notice are the 6 niches (3 on each wall). These held honorific statues within each niche.   On the side and bottom of each niche you will see carved brackets (leaves and spread eagles) that held thin columns, parts of these columns are still in place in some of the brackets. These brightly-colored alabaster columns went up to a projecting pediment above each niche. The niches on the ends had triangular pediments /\ but the center ones had oval ( pediments.
      The statues are long gone but if you look into some of these niches you will see the remains Christian Byzantine-era paintings.   Around the walls you will see 2 strips of molding, one at knee-level and the other at chest-level. Look at the wall behind the 'President's Platform' and you will see somewhat of what those 2 sections of wall looked like. Those 2 sections today would be called 'Wainscoting', it's a material that is put-up on the lower part of a wall to protect it from damage usually caused by furniture.   The Curia's Wainscoting is gray marble-facing. The lowest section protrudes out a bit, this would keep the chairs away from the wall. The upper section is flush with the wall and this prevent damage from people (a crowded hall's walls over the centuries would be damaged by people leaning or bumping into it).
      Above the niches roughly where the top of the pediment would have been, there was a Cornice around the walls. In this section between the wainscoting and the cornice there were large gray marble and porphyry rectangular panels and within these panels were colorful diamond, rectangular and other geometric designs. Also flat relief Corinthian columns and pilasters.
      The next upper band was white marble rectangular panels. And above this band (roughly 2/3 up the wall) to the ceiling the walls were painted stucco (probably whiteish to imitate marble and reflect light).   In 1562 these wall panels (150 marble & 29 Porphyry) were removed by a Cardinal under the Pope's orders.
      Augustus had 2 huge antique Greek panel pictures on the wall; One was a wax painting by Nikias 332BC and another by Philocares.   The ceiling (21m) is a modern reconstruction. The original was wood, flat and coffered like this reconstruction. Except it was very beautiful with richly gilted designs, some say in gold but probably in shiny golden copper/bronze.
    [THE 2 LARGE MARBLE RELIEFS TO THE LEFT & RIGHT OF YOU]   These are called the 'PLUTEI OF TRAJAN' or sometimes just 'THE TWO MARBLE BALUSTRADES' These are PARAPETS which is a protective low wall or railing at the edge or around something, like encircling a sacred place or around a *platform edge*.  They were found in the Forum Square in front of the Rostra next to an unpaved spot where today a Fig tree, Olive tree and Vine grow (turn around and you will see them). Between the Via Sacra and those trees are 2 long low narrow blocks of Travertine and atop these blocks was where these 2 Parapets were found during the Forum excavations in the late-1800s.
    This was NOT their original location, they were just haphazardly set-up there sometime in late Antiquity to form a square base.   Each Parapet formed a side and the ends were made-up of a carelessly built (stone or brick) wall. When found, the inside of this square was filled with rubbish.
      They have no idea what this square structure was built or used for.  
     This unpaved tree grove is believed to be the spot where the 'Ficus Ruminalis' (the Fig tree that the She-Wolf found Romulus & Remus under) was moved to. It was 1st magically moved from the Tiber River to the Comitium and then later to this location. Next to this Fig tree stood the 'Statue of Marsyas' (294BC), this scene will be on both parapets.  
     It's *very likely* that these 2 parapets were just part of a longer parapet that was on top of the Rostra which formed a protective rail in the front and sides.
      The style of the parapets is dated to ~120AD but could be later. Emperor Trajan is shown on both parapets so it's probable that either Trajan or his adopted son Emperor Hadrain had these built (but possibly even a later Emperor).  
      The backsides that you cannot see show the same scene, a sow, ram and bull being led to sacifice (the suovetaurilia). This side would have face the people standing in the Forum.
      The side you can see would be the SAME view that someone would have from atop the Rostra looking into and around the Forum, which was the intention.
    These scenes also would have been beautifully painted.   Look at the PARAPET ON THE LEFT and viewing from left to right. It starts off with the Fig Tree and the headless 'Statue of Marsyas' which symbolizes a freedom from debt slavery for the common man. The attendants are carrying the Registers (wooden tablets with a wax face where the writing was done) in which their debts are recorded and piling them in a heap to be burned in front of the Rostra. Behind these attendants you can slightly see the arches of the Basilica Julia. Next an empty space representing a Street (the Vicus Jugarius between the Basilica and the Temple of Saturn).
      Next is the 6-columned Temple of Saturn, followed by a Triumphal Arch leading to the Capitoline Hill and then the 6-columned Temple of Vespasian & Titus.   The next narrow panel is missing, this *very likely* would have shown the 'Temple of Concord' above the Rostra.   The headless seated man between these 2 temples is Trajan, he's overseeing the destruction of these debts from in front of the Rostra (you can see a ship's beak in the very bottom corner, to the right of last man's shin).
     The PARAPET ON THE RIGHT and from left to right. The 1st scene shows Trajan addressing a crowd Plebians (common people) while standing on the *other* Rostra which is at the opposite end of the Forum.   This Rostra was the front part of the 'Temple of Divus Julius' (Divine Julius {Caesar}). The Temple and Rostra were both built *on top* of a high concrete & brick platform foundation which is all that remains of this site. The actual Temple was set-back a bit on this platform leaving the front section open which was called the Rostra ad Divi Julii. Guidesbooks often mistakenly put *this* Rostra actually in the Forum Square ~20m in front of the Temple, there will be a Rostra built there but not until the 4thC.
     Also notice the 'ship's beak-rostra' mounted on the front of this Rostra on the parapet. Augustus mounted these on the front of the Temple of Julius Caesar's Rostra. They were from the ships of Antony and Cleopatra's defeated navy.
      Behind Trajan are men (Lictors carrying the Fasti, bundles of Rods but without the axes) and behind them is the 'Arch of Augustus' (now gone except for the foundation) and next behind the Emperor is the 'Temple of the Castors'. Followed by an empty space showing the street (Vicus Tuscus) and then the arches of the Basilica Julia.   In front of the Basilica seated on a platform is Trajan with men in togas behind him and a woman with a child in her arms in front of him.   The woman represents Italy, Trajan is instituting 'Alimenta' which is economic aid to needy families to support/feed their children.   And the last scene again shows the Fig Tree and the Statue of Marsyas. Just guessing but I wonder! These two parapets show Trajan's good will/deeds to the people. And the background is of the Southside of the Forum. I wonder it there was a twin to this parapet showing his same good will/deeds but with the Northside background of the Forum?   Those VIPs sitting on the right side of the Rostra would see those scenes from their prespective and those on the left would see the same scenes from their's?
      Also there was a short open section in the center of the Rostra's parapet to allow the speaker to be seen full-length when addressing the crowd.
    The name Curia comes from Rome's early beginnings and it was an assembly of people who represented their people (in their area and family clan).   In the early days Rome was divided into 3 Tribes, each Tribe was divided into 10 CURIAE, each CURIA was divided into 10 Clans.   Assemblies in the early Comitium were called 'Comitia Curiata' and composed of Senators from the '30 Curiae'.
      We later end up with 300 Senators in the Republican-Age so I assume it's just a number that stuck from the early days of 300 Clans? Each Clan 1 Senator?
      The dictator Sulla (~80BC) enlarges the Curia Hostilia and boosts the number of Senators up to 500-600, 600 is the commonly used figure.   Julius Caesar (dictator 49-44BC) boosts the number up to 900. And sometime in the years of social unrest after his murder it goes up to a
      Emperor Augustus (31BC-14AD) boots the riff-raff out and brings the number back to 600.
      In the period of this Curia voting was done by the 'pros' moving to one side of the bldg and the 'cons' to the other. Earlier this method and ballots were used but now secret ballots would mostly be used to elect Magistrates.
      The Senate would only meet between sunrise and sunset except in emergencies. Women and foreign ambassadors are never allowed into the Curia.
      The Senate would also meet in larger Temples (esp the Temple of Concord) when they needed the room and also sometimes in one of the Consul's homes.
    The Curia is considered a 'Templum' which is a place (bldg or area) set apart by the Augurs (fortune-telling/omen finding Priests) and made sacred thru a religious ceremony. The Senate can only met in a Templum, which is why they often met in Temples.
      A Senator must have land and a certain large amount of money, basically he must be rich. If he loses either, he gets the boot.   Under Augustus the Senate meets twice a month and regulation requires at least 400 members to be present, later Augustus lowers this number.
      And later in the Imperial-Period this number drops to 75 but higher for major event votes.
      A Senator has special privileges; He gets to wear a toga with a purple stripe woven in the front and short boots with the letter 'C' on the front ('C' for the original 100 Senators).   He is also entitled to the best seats at the theatre and Games. Gets to go to a big blow-out feast on the Capitoline Hill honoring Jupiter once a year.   And the best perk is the 'Legatio Libera'. A Fodorite's Dream :) , it means he can play tourist in the provinces for free. Free room and board at the local's expense for *years*. It was unlimited but Cicero put a 1 yr limit on it but a little later Julius Caesar made it 5yrs.   In Roman politics murder, bribery, treachery, lies, slander, etc was the norm. Winning was everything, the losers would sometimes wind-up penniless, exiled or dead.
    And opposing sides were often brutal and warlike. In 100BC while the voting was going on in the Curia Hostilia an opposing side hired thugs beat their opponent to death.   The Senate was outraged and declared the 2 leaders *Public *Enemies (PE).   Later the 2 opposing sides actually battled in the Forum. The PE and their followers were losing so they retreated to the Capitoline Hill.
      The Capitoline Hill is basically a fortress and they held-out until the water supply was shut-off.
      The Consul who was actually on their side but had to follow the Senate's orders promised the PE and their followers that they would not be put to death if they surrendered.
      They did and were held in the Curia Hostilia. The opposing side climbed onto the Curia's roof and pulled-off the roof tiles opening-up holes in the roof. Using the roof tiles they then stoned the 2 PE and their followers to death (like shooting fish in a barrel).   The 1st Curia is the Curia Hostilia which was said to be built by Rome's 3rd King (Tullus Hostilius 673-642BC).   In 80BC Sulla enlarges this Curia after he increases the number of Senators to 600.   A couple years later Sulla gives his retirement speech in this Curia. He says he's going to his villa and write his memoirs. And also he comes out of the closet, he says that he has been the long time lover of a male actor. The Senate is shocked! Not so much that he is Bisexual or Gay but because his lover is an 'Actor' :) . Actors, Gladiators, slaves, etc are considered below even the lowest Roman social class.    Sulla ordered the death of Julius Caesar when he was a very young man because he refused to divorce his wife and marry Sulla's relative in a political bonding. Caesar fled Rome and over time and with help from the Vestal Virgins Sulla changed his mind. But he wrote in his memoirs that he should have killed Caesar because he just seemed too ambitious and this was years before Caesar (~22) came into any kind of power.   In 52BC this Curia is burnt down during the funeral riots for Clodius. His funeral pyre was built in front of the Curia and the rioters torched the bldg. Clodius was a gang leader/politician and killed in gang war on the Appian Way. 10 yrs earlier he dressed as woman and crashed a Vestal Virgin party at Julius Caesar's *house (*called the Domus Publica, Caesar was Pontifex Maximus) where all males even male animals had to leave beforehand. Caesar divorced his wife over this scandal.    Also in these riot fires the Basilica Porcia was burnt down. It was Rome's 1st Basilica built in 184BC for judicial and business purposes. It was located just to the left of the Curia Hostilia, looking today it would be underground between the Church and the Carcer/Mamertine Prison. It's never mentioned after 52BC so it was probably never rebuilt. 'M. Porcius Cato Censorius' in 185BC; "He bought two houses on the 'stone-quarry alley" and four booths and built there the Basilica which was named 'Porcia' after him."
      In Plautus's Comedy (180BC) which he jokingly writes about the different types of people you can find in the Forum at different locations, says of this Basilica.
    "For husbands wasting their wive's fortunes meet in the Basilica and Courtesans with checkered history and fierce cut-throats meet there too".
    After the 52BC fire Sulla's son 'Faustus Sulla' starts to rebuild the Curia. He planned to rename it the Curia Cornelia which was their actual family name (Although some sources say that Sulla renamed it the Curia Cornelia after his earlier rebuild and enlargement (80BC).   3 yrs later (49BC) Julius Caesar comes to power as Dictator.   Now Sulla almost had Caesar killed in his youth and Caesar's uncle by marriage (Gaius Marius, a very famous General who mounted his Roman enemies' heads on stakes around the Rostra) had died in 86BC from natural causes while fighting a civil war against Sulla (Caesar was 14).   And Sulla's son was also the son-in-law of the now dead Pompey who Caesar just defeated in their Civil War.
      Caesar built his 'Forum of Julius Caesar' behind this Curia, reorganized the Comitium and moved the Rostra which also now carries his name into the Forum. Now does he really want a newly rebuilt Senate Bldg named after his enemy's family within *his* rebuilding & renaming projects? The answer is No of course :), Caesar wants to distance his new building projects from Sulla's and put *his* family name on the Senate Bldg.   But if he just takes-over the rebuilding of the Curia Hostilia/Cornelia and finishes it and calls it the Curia Julia his new name will probably never stick. Because it's the same bldg/same location but just rebuilt, it might legally be written 'Curia Julia' but the people will still call it it's old name out of habit, it's human nature and this does happen often in history and even today.   So Caesar builds a brand new Curia in a different location right next to the old Curia and then turns the older Curia location and bldg started by Sulla's son into the 'Temple of Felicitas'.   Caesar's Curia is also angled different than the Curia Hostilia/Cornelia. Caesar's is to the right and angled to face the Niger Lapis. Whereas the Hostilia/Cornelia was to the left of the Julia and facing the Rostra to the right of the Niger Lapis.   Sulla's son was also enlarging his father's Curia alittle, if completed it's right-front corner would have been where the Julia's left-front corner is. The Curia Julia was burned in 'The Great Fire of 64AD' (Nero's Fire). It was restored by Emperor Domitian (81-96AD), some sources say he restored it in the 80's and others in 94.   I just find it *very odd* that it wasn't restored by Nero in his rebuilding of Rome or by Vespasian or Titus or the 3 short term emperors in 68-69? But instead by Domitian 17-30yrs later?   I've always wondered if this was an historical mix-up with the facts? With so much destroyed in 64AD it was just rebuilt without much fanfare. Also odd that if it wasn't rebuilt by Nero that Vespasian wouldn't rebuilt it. His building projects were 'For The People' (like the Colosseum) and the Senate Bldg would rank up there I'd imagine?   But Domitian did rebuilt it for certain but could it have been after a localized fire in that area rather than the 64AD Fire?   In 283AD the Curia is burned in another great fire, the 'Fire of Carinus'.   It is rebuilt by Emperor Diocletian (284-305AD) and this is the bldg that we see today.   He rebuilds it on the original foundations and puts in a beautiful interior (like the floor). He also adds the 4 buttresses at each corner of the bldg.
      It's a hard read, some sources make it sound like the Curia was gutted but the original foundation and *walls* were used.  And the buttresses were added by Diocletian to support the original walls.   Either that or the original bldg was razed down to the foundations and completely rebuilt.
      Roman walls are thick and they are actually a thick concrete core that is just faced with bricks. The actual wall is really the concrete core.
      It also seems very certain that the Curia was burned in Alaric's Visigoth sacking and burning of Rome in 410AD. An inscription on the adjoining bldg (Secretarium Senatus) shows that that bldg was rebuilt in 412AD after the 410 fire.
      In 630AD Pope Honorius I makes the Curia into the Church of S. Adriano. I don't know when but by the 20thC this Church is abandoned and totally
    trashed. The roof has caved-in and the original floor is 20+ft beneath the church's floor.
      Mussolini has this church Desacralized by the Catholic Church. It's excavated and restored (1935-38) back too as close as they can to Diocletian's original bldg.

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    Walter, I don't want to pressure you. (I'm sure you have a regular job and other obligations like most of us.) However, any more additions to this thread you can make will be greatly appreciated.

    I have already printed out just about everything you have written in the past and it all has really filled me in on what I will be seeing in just a few weeks, as well as giving me extra research materials to check out.

    Thanks for this and I will definitely be checking back for more!


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    Sorry for the long hiatus :(, I'll try and finish this in the upcoming
     Pozzi Rituali are 'Ritual Pits' that tie-in to the 3 Rostra (the Comitium's, Julius Caesar's & Augustus') so I'll start with them.   But 1st I just want to add some info and advice and a correction I said earlier that the wacky Emperor Elagabalus killed his young cousin but he only plotted to kill him. His cousin became Emperor 'Alexander Severus' after Elagabalus was murdered. Alexander was killed by his own troops 13yrs later]
      As I said before you can only get inside the Curia a very short distance, basically just inside the door. So I recommend that when you 1st come into this area and are doing the Temple of Janus and the Comitium area tour if at any point you notice that the crowd is sparse (esp from large tour groups) at the Curia's Doors, jump ahead to the Inside Tour of the Curia and then go back to where you left off.    I have also come across some additional info. In 1955 they excavated beneath the 'Shrine of Vulcan', no human remains, grave goods or tombs were found.
      My guess on those scant remains next to the 'Niger Lapis' that I thought might be the later 'Temple of Janus'. I read an online paper by an Associate Professor at Harvard and published author, he said the 'Temple of Janus' was "adjacent" to the 'Niger Lapis'?   Also I once saw a 100+yr old picture of this site, the ground section of the photo was blocked but that concrete mound was alot bigger and wider.   So perhaps that structure was alot more defined when 1st excavated and the concrete core was removed? Either on purpose or by accident thinking it was a later Medieval structure's foundation (both have happened before in the early Forum excavations)? I mention this because of this map of the early excavation shows the remains of a bldg right there. It shows a sq. base structure that certainly seems to be surrounded by a fence. (#5 is the Niger Lapis and this structure is just to the right of it). POZZI RITUALI (Ritual Pits)
      Ok now, walk back over to the Custodian Shack/so-called Temple of Janus. Look towards the Arch, to the left of it in the Forum Sq. is what looks
    like a long, high, brown stone wall.
      That is the Rostra, a stage speaking platform. Now I want you at the rail fence of the Custodian Shack looking at the *center* of the Rostra.
      Now look at your feet, slowly bring your eyes up. In the Via Sacra there are 4 missing paving stones forming a straight line across the Via Sacra. Basically from the rail fence over to the slight left of that tall marble pedastal base. Easy to spot, the missing paving stones form a perfect dirt square/rectangle among the odd shaped paving stones.    Still against the fence line yourself up with them and look towards the Rostra, notice just past that tall marble pedastal slightly to the left of it is a rail fence forming a square around a brick-lined hole. Keep that in mind for later.
    Ok back to our 4 dirt squares in the Via Sacra, they are 4 of 6 'Pozzi Rituali' (Ritual Pits).
    ***I mentioned them earlier as a series of covered holes in which possibly the remains of sacrificed animal's (burned?) entrails (intestines) or organs might have deposited after being used by the Priests to look for signs from the Gods in them.   But since then I came across this info from 19C excavation that DOES put animal bones in the Comitium's Pozzi Rituali at the end of the Republic.   These pits were the ones covered-over by Julius Caesar's paving-over of the old Comitium and so were frozen in time since the 40's-BC.
      From the 'Topography of Ancient Rome' (in the Public Domain for decades) "When discovered most of the Pits on the Comitium were filled with rubbish of the End of the Republic, in which fragments of bones, POTSHERDS, etc".
    Ok, this is what Boni* had to say about the Potsherds and he was *The Man* when it came to excavating the Roman Forum. "They contained great numbers of Chalice-Shaped terra cotta vessels, such as might have been used for pouring libations. Boni believes that these pits had some religious significance and terms them Pozzi Rituali". (*Commendatore Giacomo BONI (1859-1925) Italian architect, archaeologist, Director excavations in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (buried there), Member- Superior Council of Antiquities & Fine Arts, Minister of Public Instruction, Royal Commissioner- Monuments of Rome.) Also *if* the burned organic entrails were deposited in them 2000yrs ago no evidence could be *seen* in the 19C.   But with today's technology microscopic trances could be found I'd assume?   Also I could be wrong but I thought I once read of a 19C excavation of one of the Pozzi Rituali by the Basilica Julia in which potsherds were also found?
    Go to See 6 of them labeled as 'Pits (Doliola)'. I'll have to look for that lone pit to the right of the line next time I'm in the Forum. I just discovered this photo and what is really interesting is on the other side of the Forum there is a row of pits with a lone pit off to the side like in that photo but that lone pit is intact and actually in the Forum.  These Pits were in front of the Comitium Rostra and excavations under the Comitium place these Pits 6.75m/22ft in front of the Rostra. So if you line yourself up and stand between the 3rd & 4th Pit facing the Comitium, you can see roughly where this Rostra stood and the angle it faced the Forum Sq. at.
      Now when Julius Caesar built his new Rostra in the Forum Sq. he needed new Pits in that area.
      Look at the Rostra what you are seeing was built by Augustus but if you chop the front 10m off it you will be at the Rostra built by Caesar. Caesar's was just as long but very narrow, Augustus enlarged upon it making it more like a stage.
      Walk over to the right of the large pedastal base (you will backtrack to this pedastal base later on after the Rostra tour) and look into the Forum at that small square fenced-in area surrounding a modern brick-lined hole (results of modern excavations of the Pits).   To the right of it are 2 more brick-lined holes which are filled-in with no fence.
     Also between the 1st fenced-in one and the pedastal base was the where the 1st one in the line was located (based on earlier photos).   Those are 4 of 6 of the Pozzi Rituali that were for the narrower Julius Caesar Rostra. When Augustus enlarged the Rostra by 10m *it's claimed* he built-over the other 2 of the 6 Pits. And he put in 6 new Pits directly in front of his Rostra.
        But Caesar it seems instead of putting his Pits directly in front (left to right) like at the Comitium Rostra and this later Augustus Rostra put his on a 45deg angle. This angle lines-up his Pits with the older Pits that were in front of the older and now replaced Comitium Rostra.
      So it seems that the 6 original Comitium are in line with the 6 new Julius Caesar Rosta pits making a straight line of 12.   Also 6 Pits seems to be the magic number with these lines of Pits, so perhaps lining his 6 Pits up to these older 6 Pits was symbolic?   Now walk over to between the other marble base (sq. with people sculptured on the sides and a round column base on top of it) and the Rostra.   Look across the Forum in front of the extended Augustus' Rostra, there are 6 Pits in line directly in front of the Rostra.   But only two are really visible, they are the 2nd and 3rd Pit. Follow the line of the Julius Caesar Pits towards the Rostra and you will see the 2nd Pit which is just 4 paving stones forming a dirt square in the center x. And just past it the 3rd Pit formed the same way meaning a paving stone on the top, bottom and one on each side []x[].   What's interesting is Augusus' 2nd Pit lines up perfectly with where Julius Caesar's 2nd Pit should be?   It seems that Augustus tied Caesar's 6 Pits in with his own 6 pits. Symbolicly tying-in the Comitium Rostra Pits and the Julius Caesar's Rostra Pits with the Augustus' Rostra Pits?   Basically 12 pits in line ============ with Augustus' 6 pits cutting thru at an angle // and both sharing their 2nd pit
     It looks like Julius Caesar's 1st Pit would be completely or partially built-over by the front of the Augustus Rostra?

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    #9. PART 2
    [ROSTRA] Ok now, look at the front of the Rostra. On the extreme right see that ugly section of brickwork, in your mind make that section disappear. It's a late extension (405AD) to the Rostra. Now what you have is a nice looking wall but is not original, it's a 1904 reconstruction by the Archaeologist Boni.  But notice the between the nice-looking wall and that ugly 405AD brick-section there a section of large worn ugly stone blocks with holes in them.   Those Tufa blocks are original to this Rostra, they were originally faced in beautiful marble and those holes were for mounting the bronze ramming prows (called rostra) of captured enemy ships. They were very likely the ones from the original Comitium Rostra, no reason that I've read that they shouldn't be.
      But what you see is *not* the Rostra that Marc Antony delivered his famous speech from at Julius Caesar's funeral, and yes all those tourguides you'll overhear are wrong.
    There are 2 Rostras built into that structure, this one was built over the original to extend it.
      The 1st is in the back and it was built by Julius Caesar. It is just as long width-wise (left-to-right) but very narrow (front-to-back). It was like this )) and was basically a long curved soapbox for one man to address the crowd from. If he wanted to honor someone or a group they would have to stand in a line shoulder-to-shoulder.   It was curved because the original Comitium Rostra was curved; and narrow because it was just a speaking platform to address the Senate in the Comitium or turn around and address the people in the Forum by one man usually.   So it was a practical working pulpit. Caesar keep its design symbolic to their past and being a military man keep it simplistic, meaning; give the speech, issue the decree, etc and move on.   Augustus extended this Rostra foward into the Forum by 10m turning it into a stage ))X]. Now the dignitaries, VIP's, Senators, Generals, etc could all be seated on the Rostra and now they could stage elaborate ceremonies for the crowds, just like today :).   I'm going to start at the Augustus Rostra because you're standing in front of it :), then go to the side for the later extension, side entrance and then the Caesar Rostra.
      So that is where it all happened starting with Emperor Augustus and all the famous Emperors afterwards stood upon that Rostra and addressed the crowds (Tiberius, Claudius, Caligula, Nero, Trajan, Hadrain, Commodius, etc).
      So countless boring historical ceremonies took place there...Nero had temporary steps put in so some King could walk up from the Forum, so-and-so had his funeral there, etc, etc.   But let's be honest; sex, murder, assassination, etc is what makes the best stories :).    Augustus was a 'family-values' Emperor; marriage and children vs adultery, prostitution, birth control, abortion, etc.   But he liked his discreet affairs on the side with young women esp virgins later in his life, well as Mel Brooks said in his movie "It's good to be the King" :).   Now his daughter Julia he used as a political pawn to secure a successor to the throne (marry this man, he dies... then marry this one {future Emperor Tiberius btw}).
      Julia is a princess, the Emperor's daughter, she could have countless discreet affairs but instead she becomes an open, out-of-the-closet, card-carrying Nymphomaniac (not that there is anything wrong with that:) ).
      She meets her lovers right-by that tree (the tree marks an ancient location-more on it later) you see in front of the Rostra, right-out in the open for everyone to see. And many of these men are her father's political enemies and even his supporters.   Once asked why she had so many affairs she answered "When the boat is full, it's the best time to pick-up more passengers" :).
      She is 37 in 2BC and it is claimed that she held a night time orgy in the Roman Forum using this Rostra.   Augustus totally feed-up exiles Julia to an island and has some of her lovers executed, one of them was Marc Antony's son (Iullus Antonius). So it seems that father and son *might* have both had a performance on this Rostra :).   Ok back to the actual Rostra. This diagram will give you an idea of what I mean. The top drawing shows the Augustus Rostra.  The bottom diagram shows it's plan.
    You can see it's rectangular and where the word ROSTRA is is the front facing the Forum. To the right you can see the 470AD extension and above that an opening for the ~203AD entrance to the mid-Rostra stairs, both we will get to later.
    This is a better archaeological blueprint of the Rostra [ Fig. 30 'Plan Of The Rostra'] The curved section labeled 'Hemicyclivm' is the Caesar Rostra and just above it on the right near the 'Vmbilicvs' some curved blocks. Those blocks are what remains today of the original Caesar Rostra's stairs. Upon which Julius Caesar walked on and his coffin (bier) was carried-up and Marc Antony accended to deliver his famous speech.
      And above the word 'Rostra' is the Augustus Rostra, if the floor was intact this would look like 1 structure rather than 2 seperate ones which it really is.
      Many reconstruction drawings show Augustus' Rostra replacing the curved steps of Caesar's Rostra.
      I don't believe there is any proof that these curved steps were ever built over with straight steps. I think they were just incorporated into the extended Augustus' Rostra.
      Mainly because the area would have been filled in with concrete to make it straight and stepped and then marble slabs would have been added to make the actual beautiful looking steps. Ok back to the front of the Rostra. The white marble along the base is original, it was slotted so the bottom row of marble facing slabs could be supported/fitted.   And on top there are a few pieces of the white marble cornice remaining and you can see a slot on top of this cornice which would support a short safety fence that was on top of the Rostra. It would also keep people from being pushed off if things got hot and heavy :).   A fence was on the sides and the front but in the middle of the front there was an open space so that the crowd could see the speaker from head to toe.
      This front fence has been shown on engravings like this ####__#### so I'm inclined to believe if those 2 large marble reliefs we saw in the Curia were on the Rostra perhaps they were on the sides like shown in that website drawing above?
    Augustus had statues erected on his Rostra, 1 of himself, 2 of Julius Caesar, 1 of Sulla and 1 of Pompey, some of them were equestrian (my guess would be 1 of him and 1 of Caesar?). And the later Emperors put themselves up there too.
      It is also believed that during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161AD) when he restored the Rostra after a fire, a columned roof was added to the Rostra to protect those on the platform from the sun and rain. Also during the reign of Diocletian (284AD) a roof was built, I assume it was a rebuild perhaps after the Fire of Carinus.     And traditionally and almost always shown in reconstruction drawings are 5 tall columns (remember the columns behind the custodian shack) with statues on top mounted on the Rostra.   It's doubtful but we'll get into it behind the Rostra later.   Ok now look at the ugly brick section on the right end of the Rostra.

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    #9. PART 3
    That is called the ROSTRA VANDALICA which is the modern name for this section.   It just extends the front facade of the Rostra 3-4m for some reason. I've wondered if it was perhaps to screen those using the later addition stairs cut into the side of the Rostra? It would give those VIPs privacy while waiting in the wings before making their grand entrance up on the Rostra? And also perhaps to keep the crowd from being distracted from the speaker by the coming and goings on those entering and exiting the Rostra, like a stage's side-curtains?   I haven't come across any explainations for this extension that seems to serve no purpose.
     It's believed this extension is from ~470AD when the 'Urban Prefect of Rome' 'Junius Valentinus' (455-76AD) did a Rostra restoration in brick masonry.
      The partial single-line inscription on the marble rectangular blocks on top is by Valentinus celebrating a naval victory over the Vandals under the reign of Emperors Leo and Anthemius in ~470AD.   Also note the top of these inscribed blocks is grooved, that is for the balustrade (rail fence).
    I think they are grasping at straws here with this 'naval victory' inscription.
      The Vandals have been kicking their butt all over, in 455 Rome surrendered and the Vandals plundered the city for 2 weeks along with grabbing a Empress and her 2 daughters as booty (no pun intended :) ).   And the short-reigning Emperor Petronius Maximus is stoned to death by a Roman mob outside the city while trying to flee (the Empress & daughters are from the Emperor he had killed when he took over).   Actually it was a well ordered plundering under the terms of surrender, no raping, burning, torture or murder, just plunder and a few wealthy hostages taken for ransom.
      So the Vandals got a bad rep in history, Vandals=vandalism, vandal, vandalize.
    In 468 the East and West Roman Empires come together and launch the most expensive fleet & army in history up to that point to attack the Vandals.
      The fleet splits and in Sardinia they sink 340 out of 500 Vandal ships and win this battle. I wonder if that is the one they are celebrating with this inscription?
      They might have won the battle but they didn't win the war. Near Carthage the Romans get their sterns handed to them :). The Vandals sink over half their fleet, the Romans retreat. Neither is a victor, this expedition cost the Empire bundles of money and 8yrs later in 476AD the Western Roman Empire falls. The Vandals are also on the downswing after this war and in 533 they are finally finished when their last King is captured.
    Ok now, walk over to the leftside of 'Arch of Septimius Severus' and look into the middle of the Rostra's substructure.   In the reign of Septimius Severus the Rostra was rebuilt with some changes because of the erection of this arch (203AD). In order to make a direct approach to the speaker's platform from this side, a triangular section was cut out of the northern half of the Rostra with steps leading up to the top of the Rostra.
    [ Fig. 33 ]
      So in that section in front of you the Rostra's sidewall was broken away making a little courtyard-like area which was believed to be shut off from the public by a simple gate.   I assume this made it easier to enter and exit the Rostra vs going thru the arch and around to the back of the Rostra plus VIP's could wait there probably seated in the shade rather than waiting behind the Rostra on the street until called upon for some ceremony.   Also seeing the Rostra is now like a stage any minor comings and goings would be less distracting during a speech plus alot easier to coordinate & communicate the event's going-ons unseen by the crowds.
      Ok now, still looking straight into the Rostra's substructure make everything to the left disappear.
    [ Fig. 30 ]
      The curved wall on the right are the remains of the original Rostra built by Julius Caesar. The curve was done to copy the original Rostra that was in the Comitium, remember the large circular arena-like structure mentioned earlier.
      On the end closest to you, you can see the marble base that fronted this curved wall and the remains of 4 marble slabs that lined or faced the ugly concrete core.
      On the top you can see the remains of the marble cornice that ran along the top (best viewed from the backside of this Rostra).   Also later when you are behind the Rostra you will see the remains of the long curved steps that lead to the narrow top (speaking area) of this Rostra.
      Picture youself standing in the Forum looking at this Rostra. With Julius Caesar standing on top addressing the cheering crowds.   But on March 18, 44BC his body will be carried up the backstairs on a bier (a richly decorated open coffin) and placed in the middle of the Rostra. Marc Antony steps-up to the edge of the Rostra and addresses the crowd. He has written a eulogy for his close friend, Julius Caesar. [Cassius Dio said it ended with these words]  
     "Of what avail, O Caesar, was your humanity, of what avail your inviolability, of what avail the laws?   Nay, though you enacted many laws that men might not be killed by their personal foes, yet now mercilessly you yourself were slain by your Friends!   And now, the victim of assassination, you lie dead in the Forum through which you often led the Triumph crowned; wounded to death, you have been cast down upon the Rostra from which you often addressed the People.   Woe for the blood-bespattered locks of gray, alas the rent (cut) robe, which you assumed (a purple robe, the regal color), it seems, only that you might be slain in it!"  
     Antony then grabs and holds up Caesar's bloodsoaked robe to the crowd so they see the all the cuts made by the assassins knives.   The crowd goes crazy, his bier is taken from the Rostra and brought to the other end of the Forum. Shops are looted of tables, chairs and they are piled-up. His body is placed on top and it is set afire.   This is a very honorable cremation because it is within the city walls and in the Forum, which was not allowed then and was only done for the ancient Kings of Rome.
      Social unrest follows and then civil war, the great orator Cicero is caught by Marc Antony's troops while trying to escape Italy in 43BC. His head and hands are chopped-off and brought back to Rome where they are publicly displayed on this Rostra.
      Marc Antony and Cicero are bitter enemies and Cicero has personally attacked Antony in many public and Senate speeches esp about his drinking and womanizing.
        Later Marc Antony's wife goes up to Cicero's head and pulls his tongue out past his lips and then runs a large hatpin thru it and leaves it in place, symbolicly rendering him unable to speak.   Definitely a "Stand by your man" type of woman:).

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    #9. PART 4
    Ok, backtrack and walk back over to that tall marble inscribed pedestal base I mentioned earlier, the one in line with the Pozzi Rituali between the Custodian Shack and the Rostra (it will be on your right inside the fenced Forum Sq.).
      It is actually an earlier period equestrian statue base (on the leftside are the sockets for the horse's feet) set on it's end atop a travertine block. Rome has been declining economically for years and reusing earlier materials for bldgs and monuments is common.   The 15 line inscription says it was set-up by the City Prefect-Pisidius Romulus in 405AD by the Senate and People of Rome to celebrate the 'fidelity and valor of the most devoted troops' in battle against the Goths won under the command of General ////////////.... his name is chiselled-off (Damnatio Memoriae) 3 years later after he was executed.     And as you can see the 5th and 6th line from the bottom is etched off. The name was Flavius Stilicho and it was on the 5th line, I *assume* his title(s) were on the 6th line.   The inscription celebrates the defeat of the Goths (the Visigoths & Ostrogoths are Goths but different tribes). But I get different info; either in the 402 or 403AD defeat at Pollentia (Pollenza) of either Alaric Visigoths or Radagaisus Ostrogoths or both.   This the only surviving monument of several that were set-up in the Forum praising the armys of the co-ruling Emperors Arcadius & Honorius (brothers) but their victories are short lived. And that etched-off name *might* be the reason for it and a big shove towards the 'Fall of the Roman Empire'. Flavius Stilicho was born ~359AD to a Vandal father and a Roman mother in Germany. He is brought-up as an Arian which is a Christian sect in Germany slightly different than Roman Christianity (and early Roman Christians don't like diversity).
      He's made a General after negotiating a peace treaty with the Persians by Emperor Theodosius (Honorius & Arcadius father). The Emperor sees him as a great general who would make a powerful ally and has him marry his niece and adopted daughter now a princess for a blood tie. And before Theodosius' death in 394 he appoints Stilicho as guardian to his son Honorius who becomes Emperor at 6.
    Stilicho has fought in battle with Alaric and his Visigoths when they were allies (~392AD). So he knows the man, his troops and his tactics.   Rome and Alaric are now enemies and Stilicho defeats Alaric 3 times (397, 2x in 402/403). Stilicho has also defeated Ostrogoths, Vandals and quelled an African revolt as General.   But he has enemies within the Palace and rumors are started. Plus being a half barbarian Vandal, a Christian Arian and a sucessful and powerful General doesn't help during somewhat of a peace.   He is accused of secretly forming an alliance with Alaric and other Barbarians, that he plans to make his son (Eucherius) Emperor and early in his career had ordered the murder his enemy who was the 'Praetorian Prefect' Rufinus (btw this guy deserved to get whacked).   His Palace enemies pull-off a well planned reverse coup d' etat. Stilicho retires to Ravenna where he is arrested.   He is tried but doesn't defend himself against the charges. Either he knows there is only going to be one possible verdict in a kangaroo court so why bother, pride and honor to accept his fate for the good of Rome (no in-fighting) or perhaps he was guilty and did want to make his son Emperor. In 408 he is executed on the orders of Emperor Honorius.
    His only son is also executed in Rome and his mother (Stilicho's princess wife) Serena will follow in 2yrs accused of being in league with Alaric during the seige of Rome (remember Serena for later).   Shortly after Stilicho's execution an anti-barbarian witch-hunt sweeps Italy.
      The wives and children of barbarian troops who are auxiliaries in the Roman Army are murdered by the locals.   30,000 barbarian troops desert and join Alaric and his Visigoths for safety and revenge.   Alaric marches on Rome and for 2yrs there is an on 'again-off again' seige of Rome.
      Finally on Aug 24, 410 someone opens the Gate (some believe on Serena's orders?) and for the first time in 800yrs Rome is sacked and burned for 3 days.   Atop this pedestal are sockets for the statue feet of a Stilicho statue, the statue faced the Arch of Septimius Severus. We have to assume his statue was either taken-down and replaced or had the head changed or maybe in this budget no-frills Empire they just said it was of someone else like another General from now on?   Anyway this statue faced the first arriving Visigoths as they stormed into the Forum.
      3 days later the Forum bldgs around this statue lay in burnt-out ruins within a pillaged Rome.
      And the only General who had 3 times defeated this invading King and his army had been executed 2yrs before and his name chiselled off this monument.
      It's easy and very possible to believe that Alaric himself looked upon this monument which listed the Goths earlier defeat at the hands of his old ally and adversary Stilicho.
    What would have been his thoughts?
    Happy, that he didn't have to face Stilicho again in battle? Hurt pride, that he didn't have the chance to defeat him honorably in battle at least once?
      Or the sadness of a soldier's code of honor, where his old and respected adversary was cast aside in dishonor by his own people?   Also I wonder what did the Romans think afterwards as their city lay in ruins? Perhaps; "Stilicho could have saved us!"? Ok now, walk back towards the Arch to marble column base (square with reliefs and the round column base on top) on your left . It's called the 'Decennalia Base' and was a marble base that once supported a honorary column with a statue on top. It's 1 of a set of 5 that were on top of the Rostra (son not in its original location).   In 303AD Emperor Diocletian visited Rome for the 1st time, he ruled the eastern Empire and 'Maximian I' ruled the western Empire. This was the 20th anniversary (Vicennalia) of their reign and the 10th anniversary (Decennalia) of the Tetrarchy (a 4-Emperor system). 2 Augusti (supreme rulers) Emperors, 1 in the East and 1 in the West and under each of them a Caesar (younger, vice-ruler) Emperor who would step-in with the retirement or death of their Emperor, so no power-vacuum which often leads to civil war. It worked fine under Diocletian's reign but didn't last afterwards.   4 of these 36RF/10.6m/35ft high columns had one of the Emperors atop it but the center one was 40RF/11.8m/39ft high with a statue of Jupiter atop it. I mentioned earlier the remains of these columns are behind the Custodian Shack, they are Rose-Pink Aswan Granite.   Decennalia is a celebration started by Augustus in 17BC where every 10yrs the Emperor celebrates his rule with Games, Circus', sacrifices, bloodsports and festivals.
      This lone Decennalia base was found in 1547 near the Curia and set-up here on a brick foundation in modern times. The brick foundation is built on a base of an unknown equestrian statue. The base doesn't align with the Rostra but is aligned with the Via Sacra and the Arch of Septimius Severus, it probably held a bronze equestrian statue of Severus or some later Emperor. The equestrian statue base on the otherside of the Via Sacra in front of the Arch was dedicated to Constantius II in 352-3AD.
      The FRONT SIDE relief on the base shows; 2 winged Victories holding up a shield on which is written 'CAESARUM DECENNALIA FELICITER' (Happy 10th Anniversary of the Caesars). Also people in captivity (POW's?) and booty (war trophies?).
    The other 3 sides represent vows for another happy decade. The RIGHT SIDE relief shows; 'Suovetaurilia' an animal sacrifice to the Gods of a boar, ram and bull. And they will be lead to sacrifice in that traditional order only. The attendent on the left is carrying the axe for the sacrifice, the toga clad man on the right is leading them.   Farmers also do this type of sacrifice at a agricultural festival ever May. The farmer's family washes, dresses in white with olive wreaths and leads these animals around their fields 3 times and then sacrifices them. The animals entrails are then examined for omens, the entrails and bones are wrapped-up and burned on an altar to the Gods. The meat is cooked and everyone eats very well at the festival. Except if you had sex the night before, you are then considered impure and can't join in. And of course the day before would be the day the wife would decide to strut around the hut with her new sexy hi-heeled sandals, a short low cut tunic and her new leather strophium (a leather band bra) :).
    The LEFT SIDE relief shows; A procession of toga clad Senators celebrating this Decennalia. In the background you can see 4 military standards (flags) being carried.
    The REAR SIDE cannot be seen as the Forum is fenced-off and of course it's the best side :(. It shows a Caesar Emperor at a sacrificial altar offering a libation while being crowned by a little winged Victory, behind him the toga clad Genius (spirit) of the Senate. Around him are the Gods Mars, Sol Invictus (Sun God) and a seated Roma also a toga clad bearded Augustus Emperor, priest with pointed headgear and an attendant.   [You can see it with binoculars though.]

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    Ok, the 'Arch of Septimius Severus' ya really can't miss this baby in the Forum, it's huge.
      It's 1 of 3 intact remaining arches in Rome, the others are the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Titus which had a major reconstruction.
      Now this particular arch is definitely a 'male thing' that only we can understand and appreciate :).
      It's the early 3C AD (203AD) and no one has ever put an arch here because there is no reason too and just no room for it!   No military Triumphs will pass this way as far as we know because it will have steps vs. a street leading up to and thru it. Plus it's not on the traditional route.
      It's in a *very crowded corner* of the Forum with temples, statues, etc and near the base of the Capitoline Hill so you must sharp turn left or right or climb stairs if going straight. Plus the Niger Lapis is directly in front of its approach and the south end invades into the Forum Sq.
      So it's really way out of place but if a woman was going to put an arch here she would put a nice neat and practical single arch.   Because a single arch would prefectly match the single Arch of Tiberius on the otherside of the Forum, so you would have a set of matching arches on each side of the Square with the Rostra in the middle.
      But Septimius is 'The Man' and he can get whatever he wants and he wants to show everyone that he has the biggest...uhhh...ARCH in town.   So with some major rearranging they squeeze in this huge triple arch which is even bigger that the triple arched 'Arch of Augustus' cater/kitty-cornered from this arch in the Forum.
    [BEST TO START WITH WHO WAS SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS] Lucius Septimius Severus (146-211AD) was a Roman general and later Emperor 193-211. Born in Libya, made Senator by Emperor Marcus Aurelius in 172, Consul in 190, made Commander of Legions in Pannonia (Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia area) by Emperor Commodus in 191, Commodus is assassinated in 192.
      In 193 Septimius and three other boys all declare themselves Emperor that year.
      Two are killed on the Palatine in the Imperial Palace. The 1st by his own soldiers (spear throw to the chest, his head is paraded thru the Forum and streets). The 2nd is deserted by everyone and left all alone in the Palace, a single soldier sent by the Senate kills him (Severus has a hand in this).
      The last emperor-wannabe is in the east supported by the Parthian Empire (Iran and surrounding areas).
      Severus goes over, finally defeats and kills him and then kicks some Parthian butt for supporting him.
      This was the 1st PARTHIAN CAMPAIGN.
      197 the Roman Governor in Britain revolts and declares himself Emperor. Severus goes over to Gaul where they battle and he wins.   The Parthians take advantage of this infighting and revolt. Severus goes on another PARTHIAN CAMPAIGN in 197-199 and wins. These 2 major (sometimes the last one is listed as 2 seperate campaigns, so 3 total) Parthian Campaigns are what is shown on the 4 Relief panels on both sides of the Arch.
      Severus finally gets back to Rome in 202.  
     The Arch is built in 203 and the inscription is dedicated to Emperor Septimius Severus and his 2 sons Caracalla and Geta for basically "restoring the Republic and expanding the dominion of the Roman People".   Oddly for some reason Severus doesn't have a military Triumph (parade) for these wars?
      Severus' reign is a military dictatorship but he is loved by his troops and fairly well liked by the Roman people (after Commodus that is pretty easy:).
      The Senate hates him but if you kill a few dozen Senators and replace them with your cronies that problem just tends to take care of itself.   In 211 while on campaign in Britain Septimius Severus dies in York. He tells his 2 sons from his death bed to "get along with each other" and "to pay and treat his soldiers well and to hell with everyone else".
    Right after dad dies the brothers are at each others throats, both trying to kill the other for total control of the Empire. And when back in Rome they even split the Palatine Palace in half by walling it up the middle.   Their poor mother tries everything to make them get along but it's no use.
      They were going to split the Empire in half but mom talks them out of it, knowing it would only lead to a civil war between them for total control.
    Later Caracalla sents a message to Geta to meet at mom's apartment so they can make peace between them. Geta shows up but Caracalla has men hidden nearby and they stab him (or he did it himself).   Her youngest son is murdered before her eyes by her eldest son and as she cradles Geta in her arms he slowly bleeds to death.        
     Caracalla then has all traces of his brother existance removed. It's called a 'Damnatio Memoriae' and that person's statues are torn down, all inscriptions are erased, etc as if they never existed.   Caracalla went even further by killing ~20,000 people who sided with Geta no matter how remotely, like military men, friends, freedmen, servants, etc .   He even killed the musicians, actors and chariot team his brother just liked!   But what 'comes around, goes around' and 6yrs later Caracalla is assassinated.
    The mastermind of the plot is the Commander of the Praetorian Guard named Macrinus. But they need a patsy to take the blame (JFK conspiracy buffs take note :)).  
      Julius Martialis is an officer in the Imperial Bodyguard who is recruited to their cause.   
      Later on a overland journey when Caracalla goes to relieve himself in private away from his bodyguards, he is killed by Martialis.     Suddenly everyone is in surprised shock at this event..yea right! "Oh my Gods...Martialis has killed the Emperor!" And the Emperor's Mounted Bodyguard quickly kill the 'Lone Assassin' Martialis.  
     Marcinus becomes Emperor but only for a short time (~1yr), he's defeated in a civil war, captured and executed. Caracalla was 29 at his death and his ashes are sent back to Rome where they were laid to rest in the Mausoleum of Hadrian. He was deified in AD 218.  This all leads us to the inscription at the top of the arch where we will start.
    Ok step back so you can see the inscription on the top of the arch, the same inscription is also on the backside.
    This arch's inscription has the most famous Roman 'Damnatio Memoriae' that survives.
    The inscription was once written in gilded bronze letters (long gone) which were inset into the stone, so today you can still read it because of these carved letter insets.
    The 4th line from the top used to say 'P. Septimio Getae Nob(ilissimo) Caesari' or basically 'Most Noble Caesar Geta'.   They know this because even though those carved inset letters were erased and new inset letters were added the original holes for those bronze letters remained. So by eliminating the new letter holes they could figure out what letter the old holes held. Caracalla replaced it with 'Optimus Fortissimisque Principibus' translated as 'excellent and strongest princes' meaning himself.
        Also 'ET' was removed from the end of 3rd line, 'et' means 'and', it was the 'and' between the long titles of Caracalla ET Geta.   It was replaced with P P which means 'Pater Patriae' or 'Father of the Fatherland'.
      So Geta was erased and additional titles were added to fill-in the space.     The entire inscription basically reads; To the Emperor Septimius Severus, Son of Marcus. (the following are titles) Pius, Pertinax, Pater Patriae, Parthicus Arabicus, Parthicus Adiabenicus, Pontifex Maximus.   Having held the Tribunician power 11 times, acclaimed Emperor 11 times, Consul 3 times, Proconsul. And Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Caracalla), Son of Lucius. Antoninus, Augustus Pius, Felix.
    Having held the auspicious Tribunician power 6 times, Consul, Proconsul, Pater Patriae. Excellent and Strongest Princes for having restored the State and enlarged the Empire of the Roman people, by their visible strengths at home and abroad, the Senate and People of Rome (built this; shown as SPQR).

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    #10. PART 2
    Ok there are 4 panels each one is over the smaller side arches on both sides of the Arch.
      They show the Parthian Campaigns and are meant to be read bottom to top, each panel has 2 or 3 scenes.
        The panels are meant to be read in chronoloical order, you start at the left panel on the Forum side and move counter-clockwise around the Arch (so the 1st is Forum-side/left panel, 2nd Forum-side/right panel, 3rd Capitoline Hill-side/left panel, 4th Capitoline/right panel).
    1ST PANEL: 3 scenes (remember start at the bottom) in a badly preserved state of the 1st Parthian Campaign.
    Bottom: scene is the Roman Army leaving their camp.
    Center: battle scene, Romans vs Parthians.
    Top: On the right the Parthian King fleeing on horseback. On the left
    Severus addressing his victorious troops. 2ND PANEL: Is the 2nd Parthian Campaign. Bottom: (leftside) A Roman attack on the city of Edessa with a 'Battering ram'; (rightside) City throws open its Gates, sends out dignitaries bearing standards to surrender. Middle: (left) Severus and entourage addresses the army; (rightside) King Abgar and entourage surrenders to Severus. Top: (right) War Council in fortified Roman Camp; (left) Severus in charge heading out into enemy territory. [CAPITOLINE HILL SIDE; LEFT PANEL]
    3RD PANEL:
    Bottom: Attack on Seleucia by the Tigris River and the Parthians
    escaping on horseback.
    Top: Parthians surrendering to the Emperor and Severus entering the
    conquered city.
    4TH PANEL:
    Bottom: Attack and fall of Ctesiphon the Parthian capitol city.
    Battering ram siege tower on left, King Vologese escaping on foot on the extreme right.
    Top: Severus addressing his victorious troops in front of the captured
    The large middle arched passageway's keystone is Mars the God of War. On each side of Mars are reliefs of Victory (looks like an angel) carrying Trophies with a personification of each of the 4 Seasons at the feet of each of the 4 Victorys.
        On each of the side passageways the keystone is of lesser Gods, one is probably Hercules.
      On each side of these lesser God keystones are figures of River Gods. Above these is a narrow band relief showing a Triumphial Procession
    with captives and war booty.
    Also there are 4 free-standing columns and their bases on each side of the Arch.
      The bases are in good shape because they were buried for centuries when the Forum's groundlevel rose.
      The reliefs on the bases show Roman
    soldiers escorting their Parthan POWs.
      Look for signs of wearing (esp on the Capitoline side) of these bases and the lower section of the columns. This damage was caused by Medieval to Early-Modern Times wheeled traffic going thru the passageways.
      By Medieval Times the Forum's groundlevel had risen so that the passageways were now level with the ground (steps are buried).   By 1750 the groundlevel has completely blocked the side passageways except for curving arch part at the top --^--. So covering the bases and ~25% of the column.
    [THE ARCH]
      Is built on a Travertine foundation and has a Travertine core, the arch is faced with banded grey/white Proconnesian marble. And actually the worst damage to this arch is from the original builders who had to cut corners with the marble. By ignoring the marble's horizonal grain things happened like columns split vertically, chunks of reliefs and projecting pieces fell off, etc.
      But luckily the Arch was saved from being stripped like other bldgs & monuments because the left (southern) half in the Middle Ages was the property of a nearby church.
      And the right half became part of a 12C fortification (Brachis Family), its fortress tower was attached to the back rightside of the Arch and was still standing in the 16C. Also if you look on the side of the arch (north end) at the top there is a big hole in the attic section. I wonder? if this section was hacked-out to provide a window for defending (archers) this Medieval Arch/Fort? Or just a hacked-out doorway to a long gone fortification bldg attached? Or did that section just fall-out?
    Ok lets go back in time to when this Arch was just completed. A common misconception is that these bldgs and monuments were all white marble like in the movies.
      But things like reliefs, marble statues, parts of bldgs, etc were painted in bright colors.
      So picture all the reliefs like a painting. Now on top of the Arch there was a large bronze chariot drawn by 6 horses in which rode Severus being crowned by Victory.   Also riding alongside him in the chariot were statues of Caracalla & Geta and we can safely assume that later Geta disappeared.
      There were foot-soldiers walking alongside the chariot and a horse-mounted cavalryman statue in each corner of the Arch. BTW is is also possible that all these statues were made of Silver!     Now on the 4 corners of the 'Inscription Panel' there are square pillar-columns, there were adorned with bronze ornaments possibly some type of war trophies.
     There were also bronze ornaments (trophies & garlands) around the plain surfaces of the inscription panel. Also picture the bronze lettering still in place.
      There are steps leading up to the Arch from the street, these steps are the width of the Arch.
      Now for some unknown reason ~4C these steps were removed and the area in front of the Arch was lowered ~8ft.   New steps were put in which now reached to below the 3 passageways groundlevel. To compensate for this steps were cut into the Arch's foundation. You can see these new steps in each of the 2 side passageways
      This lowering of the area in front of the Arch caused the exposure of the Arch's Travertine foundation which was then faced in marble. If you look at the very lower left corner of the Arch you will see a piece of this marble facing still in place.
      Also if you look just to the left of the Niger Lapis (Black Stone) you will see 3 steps that lead up from the Comitium to the road that lead up to the Arch. I've always wondered if these steps were original from the time of the Comitium paving-over or were added later when the road and steps were made leading up to the Arch (either the 1st or 2nd road/steps)?
    Later on when behind the Rostra area look at the southside of the arch, you will see a doorway ~5m up. It was put high-up to keep people out and you would need a ladder to get to it. Inside there is a staircase that leads up to a doorway that allowed access to a walkway around the outside inscription area. You can see this doorway in the middle of the inscription on the backside of the Arch.
      Another door lead up to the roof of the Arch. This was a maintenance access mainly for the cleaning and occasional repairing of the statues and inscriptions. Alot of bronze up there for the slaves to keep shiny.
      Now walk up into the Arch, access is only allowed thru the middle passageway.
      Again try and picture these passageways richly painted and perhaps adorned with small or leafed bronze ornaments.   Long after Rome fell a sculptor or stonemason set up shop in this middle passageway and he etched profiles on the walls (I couldn't find them, probably very faded and higher-up). But you will see quite a bit of 20thC graffiti etched into the walls :(. Also sometype of business stalls were set-up in the side arches and used up to the early 1800's. You will also see holes that line-up ~3m up in the passageways, these would have been to add a 2nd floor (wooden) in the Arch.   The left passageway has 3 ancient games etched on the floor (more on these later)
      When in the middle passageway look at the left side of the doorway that goes into the left passageway there is a 'hole game' there (holes bored into the stone like ::::: ). Later walkout of the middle passageway and look into that same left passageway, there is a 'hole game' on the rightside of the doorway and a faded 'circle game' (size of a pizza) on the pavement.

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    Ok walk thru the Arch and turn around and look up at the same inscription.
      In the center of the inscription is an opening like a doorway. I *believe* this was a maintenance access for the cleaning and repair of the bronze inscriptions, if so it was probably more like a removable hatch that could be taken out in one piece. There is also a doorway on the South end of the Arch and the North end has a large irregular hole (original doorway made larger to connecting Medieval bldg?)  Or were these doorways cut thru on this level when this arch was part of the Medieval fortress and church?
    Ok while you are in this area (with your back to the arch) the 'Mamertine Prison' (Carcer Tullianum) is 45deg to the right ~40m away but it is above you on the modern ground level and out of sight.   If you wish to visit it take the stairs on the right up to the 1st exit on the right. A bldg is in front of you (it's a church), walk around the rightside of it to the front and there is the Prison entrance (donation expected).  
     Also to the right of this bldg ~40m away is a street like the Via Sacra called the 'Clivus Argentarius' (The Bankers' Rise).   It originally entered the Forum near the Comitium. This is almost certainly the street that Julius Caesar took after leaving his home in the Forum and over to the Curia Pompey where he was assassinated. ~3hrs later 3 slaves carried his bloodied body home in a litter, in all likelyhood following this same route. This is also the street the prisoners and slaves took out of the Forum at the end of a Trimphal Parade.
      MAMERTINE PRISON OR CARCER OR TULLIANUM It is very doubtful that St. Peter and Paul were ever held in this prison. But it is an fairly important ancient site. The lower level dates back to at least the 3C BC, some say earlier. It was a 'death row' for *very important* Roman citizens and foreign leaders. If a Leader/General was brought back as a POW in one of Triumphal Parades that is where he ended up (like Jugurtha and Vercingetorix - In HBO's Rome that is who Caesar brought back in his Triumph and had sadly killed). They would either be strangled there or brought down to the Comitium and publicly executed also some might be thrown off the Tarpeian Rock (cliff on the Capitoline Hill). If they were killed in the prison their body was brought up by rope thru a hole and thrown down the stairs that lead to the Forum for public viewing. Sometimes the bodies were left for days, later they would be dragged by meathooks to the Tiber River and thrown in.   The modern stairs basically follow the same path as an ancient staircase that lead from the Forum to the middle of the Capitoline Hill (the Arx). A lower flight of stairs (Forum to prison) was called the 'Scalae Gemoniae' (Gemonian Stairs) or as Pliny called them "The stairs of sighs" (or wailing).
      A couple of stories about these stairs, the first is for the dog lovers and very sad. [Pliny] During the reign of Tiberius the dead bodies of Titius Sabinus and his servants were thrown down these stairs after their execution. The corpse of one of these men was watched over day and night by his faithful dog. At one point the dog even went off and stole some bread. When the dog returned it tried to force the bread into his dead master's mouth. Later when their bodies were dragged to the Tiber River and thrown in, the dog jumped in and tried to drag his master's body to shore.
      The man who condemned these men was later flung down these same stairs on Tiberius' orders. His name was Sejanus and he was a bad dude. He killed his own wife and was the lover of Tiberius' only son's wife. And together Sejanus and Tiberius' daughter-in-law poisoned Tiberius' son. All part of Sejanus' plan to become Emperor with this evil black widow by his side.  
     And there was even a Emperor killed on these steps. After Nero's death Rome was in a civil war and had four emperors in ~18 months. Called 'The year of the Four Emperors' (68-69AD) which ended with Vespasian and beginning the Flavian Era. The 3rd of these 4 short-term Emperors was named Vitellius. It his youth he was Emperor Tiberius' favorite boy, his nickname was 'Spintria' (sphincter artist:). He had the reputation for being a yes-man and a great hedonist. He was a familiar face around the Palace during the reigns of Caligula, Claudius and Nero.   Let's see Tiberius was possibly smothered by Caligula, Caligula was killed by his guards, Claudius was poisoned by Nero and Nero was forced to commit suicide, you might think he wouldn't want the damn job:).   He's declaried Emperor in January, finally gets to Rome in mid-July and by mid-Dec the city is surrounded by the opposing army.   Everyones deserts him, his palace is empty. He stuffs some gold coins in a moneybelt, grabs his dog (yea he really does:) and flees. But not far, he hides in a gatekeepers house.   But he is discovered and captured, a noose is put around his neck and he is lead thru the Forum half naked in torn garments. The guards are beating him and the citizens are throwing dung and mud at him and calling him vile names. He is forced to watch as his statues are pulled down.   He is finally brought to these Stairs and slowly tortured to death to the delight of the cheering crowd standing in the Forum. He is finally beheaded and his body is dragged by a meathook to the Tiber River.   This same crowd had also cheered him when he became Emperor only a few months before:(.  
     Ok now, still standing behind the Arch of Septimius Severus look to the left, see that very low metal roof. It's covering the ALTAR OF SATURN.   This was an outdoor altar dedicated to Saturn and now stands in front of the Temple of Saturn (the one with 6 columns).    The altar was cut into the exposed bedrock and also constructed with some Cappellaccio (local poor quality Grey Tufa, possibility mined from the Palatine, Capitoline or Quirinal Hill-Rome's 1st building blocks).    It's dated to at least to the 6th Century BC but very likely it's earlier. So it pre-dates the Temple of Saturn which was 1st built in 497BC.
      I believe it is earlier from what I have read. IMO I don't see why it can't even be dated it to Romulus' time. It's just a very simple altar cut-out of a large rock that happens exist there, nothing fancy or requiring great engineering skills?
      Who knows perhaps even before the altar was cut into this rock it was used for animal sacrifices?
      Lets just say when the Romans and the Sabines 1st made their alliance and chose this area as a meeting place (Comitium) they like all good Pagans needed to make an animal sacrifice and then have the Priests read the entrails to see what the Gods had to say about it (favorable or unfavorable).
      So that morning they grab some unlucky Ram out in the fields and bring him to this area.
      So they look around for an easy place to do it rather than fumbling around on the ground with an angry Ram:). After all they've got to hold it down, slit its throat and then gut it to get the entrails and/or liver out.
      A big flat rock would be a nice makeshift cutting-table/altar plus being at a slightly higher elevation everyone could see and then the Priest could easily make his announcement to the crowd.   Or perhaps using this rock for sacrifices even predates the 'Founding of Rome'?   And then one day they decide to upscale this natural altar and take a hammer and chisel to the rock and make what we see today?     Of course I don't know, no one does :), it's just an odd and unique
    site and you have to wonder, Why?
    Does it have a history? Or did they just have a big ugly rock that they couldn't move in their new Comitium and decide to make something out of it:) ?  
     The original altar was larger but later bldgs and the road encroached upon it and it was probably partially destroyed and finally just covered over. Because after the Temple of Saturn was built a new altar was very likely built on the stairs, as was traditionally done. Altars were outside usually on the steps of temples, this kept the inside of the temple free of the sacrificed animal's blood (unhygienic, flies, maggots, stinky). Plus the people could easily view the ceremony on the steps.
       Todays remains are ~4m x ~3m and this section was covered by a thin layer of painted cement.
      And if look closely you can still suprisingly see some faded red paint and cement on the rock!
      The altar surface was cut by (draining) channels and in front is a Tufa slab drain, so this section was very likely the actual sacrificial altar part (animals only, no cool stories about unluckly virgins :) ).   It also shows signs of having been damaged and repaired. It's just a slab of rock, so I'd assume the damage was man-made (why and by whom I wonder...invaders, civil unrest?)
      On the surface of this rock are small round and square cuttings which some say are meant to resemble the early cremation tombs in the Forum?  
       It is the oldest site in the Roman Forum that you can actually see, others are long buried or have been rebuilt over.   At the time of the founding of Rome (753BC) this rock and area was ~5m higher than the Forum Square before it.   It's said that the Kings and Magistrates used to address the crowds from this area, if so it was the Forum's 1st speaking platform. And there are some historical/mythical hints that this location might have been used in Romulus' time.   If true, imagine while you are standing there looking into the Forum of ancient KIngs addressing the crowds below. Perhaps even Romulus himself firing-up his people to go to war and conquer a neighboring tribe, expanding a fledgling Empire by just a few more hills and valleys.   Perhaps even making a animal sacrifice to the Gods on that rock beside you?

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    #11. PART 2
    Well ya can't miss it, it's that ugly brick circular structure next to the Arch and directly in front of the Altar of Saturn and signposted 'Umbilicus Urbis Romae'.  
      It is actually 2 seperate but interconnected sites, one above the other.
      The 'Ubilicus Urbis Romae' is the brick structure you can see which are the remains of the 'symbolic centre' or navel/bellybutton (umbilicus) of the City of Rome and the entire Roman Empire. Just like the Omphalos in Delphi was the ancient navel/center of the World in its' heyday.
      Below that brick structure is the MUNDUS which is a hole in the ground (said to be a deep cleft in the ground) which connects (gateway) the living World above to the underworld of the dead (like ghosts & spirits; "inhabited by infernal beings and the shades of the dead").   Now the original Mundus started as a trench according to Plutarch. "Romulus buried Remus together with his foster-fathers in the Remonia and then set himself to building his city. After summoning from Tuscany (Etruscan) men who prescribed all the details in accordance with certain sacred ordinances and writings, and taught them to him as in religious rite. A circular trench was dug around what is now the Comitium and in this were deposited the first-fruits of all things the use of which was sanctioned by custom as good and by nature as necessary. And finally every man brought a small portion of the soil of his native land and these were cast in among the first-fruits and mingled with them. They call this trench as they do the Heavens by the name of "Mundus." Then, taking this as a centre, they marked out the city in a circle round it. And the founder (Romulus) having shod a plough with a brazen ploughshare and having yoked to it a bull and a cow, himself drove it".   Ok it's a cool ritual the 1st time it's done but must get kind-of old after a while:).
      *Perhaps*? it's later decided to have a symbolic Mundus to throw-in the 1st fruits and some hometown dirt.   And a really great spot for it (if this is the original location?) would be on this higher ground natural speaking platform right, a really good spot to do this kind-of religious ritual before the people. And it just happens to be in front of the Altar of Saturn?   And then over the centuries its original meaning and function are lost and it becomes a gateway to the Underworld?   Anyway in our timeline that is what this Mundus is, a gateway to the Underworld.
      And 3 times a year (Aug24, Oct5, Nov8) the Lapis Manalis (stone lid) is removed and thru this opening in the ground and out thru that small doorway you see the denizens of the Underworld are let out to roam freely about the living World above.
    And on these 3 days among other things there can be no battles or military operations, ships can't weigh anchor, no judgements, no public meetings, no marriages and if *you* are in Rome on those dates...No Sex is allowed either ("Not tonight Dear it's one of the Nefasti Dies (unlucky days)" :).
    Ok this reconstructed UMBILICUS URBIS ROMAE is from the Septimius Severus era (~200AD) but the original probably dates to the 2C-BC.   The construction of the Arch of Septimius Severus encroached on the ancient Umbilicus, which was reconstructed to give space to the arch. Fragments of the older monument were used in the new one (they're the marble remains).
      Some info claims that Severus moved the Umbilicus here to make way for his Arch but I don't think so.
    Ok you be the judge of this. This monument *is physically* incorporated into the rear corner steps of the Caesar's Rostra built ~260yrs earlier.   A short time later Augustus puts the 'Miliarium Aureum' at the opposite end of the steps which balances it out architecturally o=====o.   I think there would have been some kind of major public and religious outcry over moving it, so loud that it would probably would have survived in writing today. It's not like just moving a building or statue it is after all an ancient gateway to the Underworld and the ancient center of the Roman Empire.
    I think the Arch of Severus just encroached a bit on the original Umbilicus and it was rebuilt but still in it's original location. Or perhaps it just needed a facelift and got one to compliment Severus' Arch?
    Now this Umbilicus has a cylindrical concrete core that was brick faced and built in 3 stacked sections. Its base is ~4.6m and the top is ~3m and it was faced in either white or colored marble.   The top perhaps held either a statue of column.
      Still standing wherever you are look at the back of the Rostra, that is the
    As you already know this is the original Julius Caesar Rostra and then Augustus enlarged it. So let's just stick to JC's small Rostra. You can see the remains of the marble steps on the leftside that once covered the entire back and the curve of this staircase. Not much room on top as you can see, as I said before this was more of a speaker's platform like the original in the Comitium. Also that cornice work has been placed on top in modern times, it was once mounted in front.   Picture Caesar's open coffin carried up and placed in the middle and then Marc Antony climbing the stairs and giving his famous speech. And of course all of the other Emperors walking up those steps to speak to the crowds from the Augustus Rostra.   
      Behind the Rostra they found in the 19C excavations 5 bases for columns.
      These were also excavated again in 1959.   It's a fact that 5 columns with statues on top were put up by Emperor Diocletian 303AD.
      The columns were between 30-35ft and the middle one was the tallest with a Jupiter statue on top.
      But who knows perhaps there were column/statues there before? And his just happened to be recorded in history perhaps replacements after the 283 Fire? It wouldn't be the 1st time a later Emperor gets credit unintentionally for something built earlier.   But anyway, these 5 column/statues are always shown as being mounted *on* the Rostra in modern reconstruction drawings.
      But it is very doubtful.
      1st off the weight would be too much for the Rostra floor (base, 10m column & statue).
      2nd they found 5 bases right there.
      3rd a relief on the Arch of Constantine really seems to show the column/statues behind the Rostra.
       These column bases are still buried beneath the street paving you are walking on. BTW those paving stones are modern, they were put in in 2005.
    Now walk to the other end of the Rostra 0=====x, so at one end was the Umbilicus o= and at this end was the MILLIARIUM AUREUM =x (sometimes spelled with 1 L).
    As you walk by the flowing modern water spigot, take a drink, the water is fine:). This water comes from the springs in the very same area that the Aqueduct Marcia once ran its 91km course to supply Rome.   The water from this aqueduct was said to be the coldest and the best tasting of all the aqueduct waters in ancient times.   Oh yea, the key to drinking from this spigot is to block the water flow with your finger. There is a small hole on the top of the spigot that will now send water squirting out and up like a regular drinking fountain. Ok now at this end of the Rostra there is no 'Milliarium Aureum' to be found?   But turn around and look at the Temple of Saturn.   Across the street that you are standing on there is a fence and on the grass just behind the fence on stone rubble there is a large slightly curved marble fragment.
      With a marble plaque below it saying 'Millairivm Avrevm'. The 2nd 'Millairivm Avrevm' fragment is just to the left of it (1m) and is a short round marble column stump with alot of holes in it. (marble shaft; 1.42m long & 1.17m diameter, two sides left rough and traces of bronze facing(?). The other piece is a section of a circular marble plinth decorated with palmettes=palm leaves).   This according to ancient writers descriptions is roughly its exact location (these pieces were found nearby and placed there).
        Milliarium Aureum means 'Golden Milestone'. Romans placed simple 'Stone Milestones' on their roads every 'Roman Mile' to mark distances just like we sometimes do today on our highways.   'Golden' was because it was covered in bronze.  Engraved on this Golden Milestone were the major cities in the Empire and their distances from Rome (some say on bronze plaques).   But this Golden Milestone was just symbolic and a fancy showpiece. See the real starting points (or zero) for measuring the road distances began at whatever of the 37 Servian Wall City Gates a road actually left Rome from.   Think of those old war movies or MASH (movie & tv series) where the soldiers for fun put-up a wooden post with arrow signs =====> reading 'CHIGAGO 6287mi'.
    Emperor Augustus erected this monument in 20 B.C. when he became the 'Cura Viarum' or Superintendent the Roman road system:). Above is what guidebooks and guides will say about this site and of course throw-in the "All Roads Lead To Rome" phrase:).   But this is probably more closer to the truth. The location you see today is very likely roughly where it was moved to decades later when the 'Schola Xantha' was built at this end of the Rostra.
      Its original location when erected by Augustus was very probably at the end of the Rostra o=====x.
      In 1959, H. Kähler found a round concrete base at this end of the Rostra.
      This was very likely a base for a single column-like structure.   The 2 pieces we see today labeled 'Millairivm Avrevm' were found in this general area (exact location not recorded I believe) in an 1830's excavation before a road was built.   And *believed* then to be part of the Golden Milestone.   That large section with the palm leaves is far too big to be part of a column-like monument unless it was *huge*.   It's something that would be placed *on top* of a structure or bldg. And guess what? Its diameter is exactly the same as the top of the Umbilicus at the other end of the Rostra! And that is very likely exactly what it was.
      The column section of the Golden Milestone is probably iffy also. It's believed that the Golden Milestone was is the actual rectangular [] shape of a milestone and not a circular O column. Which makes alot of sense when you think about, it is a milestone after all.   Who knows *perhaps* that column section was on top of the Umbilicus also?   It's believed it had either a statue or column on top?   And there is no proof that the Golden Milestone had any MASH-like signs or engravings on it listing a city and its distance from Rome.   One hint from Cassius Dio is that the Golden Milestone just listed the name of the Road and the 'Curatores Viarum' or the man appointed by the Emperor in charge of its upkeep.
    This is a good vantage point for 'The year of the Four Emperors' (68-69AD).
      You see General Otho met his Praetorian conspirators at the Milliarium Aureum when he betrayed (with good reason) Emperor Galba and was sprirted away to their barracks.
      Emperor Galba was later attacked and killed within 50m of you (more later) and Otho became Emperor.
      He lasted 3 months and when defeat was imminent by General Vitellius he honorably stabs himself in the chest.  
     Vitellius becomes Emperor but has General Vespasian troops marching on Rome.   Vespasian's son Domitian (later Emperor) is hiding on the Capitoline Hill and later sneaks away disguised right by were you are standing.   Vitellius is later murdered on the stairs behind the Arch of Septimius Severus as I mentioned earlier.   And General Vespasian becomes Emperor and builds the Flavian Amphitheatre (Colosseum).

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    Ten years ago in Rome, Walks of Rome gave an excellent tour of the Forum. My daughter recorded it and I listen to it once in a while. It made the area come alive. But, it was nothing like what Walter has done here. Lucky me, I'm back in Rome next month. I will be delighted to have a printout of this tour with me. Thank you for this wonderful tour.

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    It is now April 14, 2007. Anyone want to meet in Rome with me in late October and do Walter's walking tour?


    P.S. Walter, do you have a recommendation for a reasonably priced hotel near all these great places?

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    #12.1 TABULARIUM
    Ok now, why don't you walk back over to behind the Rostra and have a seat with your back to the Rostra and Forum.
      I'm labeling the next 5 sites #12.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 because you can do them while sitting there and relaxing :).
     In front of you is a large multi-storied building. It has a groundlevel (basement) with 6 windows, a 1st Floor with 3
    large arched openings.
     Now those 2 levels are ancient but built over the 1st floor is a modern looking structure consisting of 3 shorter floors.
      I will call that entire 3-floored section the 2nd Floor as it is not original to the bldg but this bldg did have a 2nd floor in ancient times.
     *Today* they call this ancient bldg the 'Tabularium' which literally means 'a place usually a room or cupboard for storing 'Tabula' (writing tablets). In this case it's a building.
     But they really don't know what the ancient Romans actually called this building or are they a 100% certain as to what purpose it actually served.
      The modern name is based on an inscription that was *seen* in the 15C in the basement (now lost but the inscription was recorded).  It said that the "Consul of 78BC Quintus Lutatius Catulus (General/Dictator Sulla's Lieutenant) commissioned the building of a Substructio (basement) and a Tabularium (very likely meaning an upper floor or floors)".
     Remember this inscription was just *seen* in the basement which strongly hints that it was just *found* there (originally mounted elsewhere but over the centuries ended up here?).
      Because no Roman would ever mount their dedication plaque in a basement where it couldn't be seen by their peers and the common people!
      Anything like this was always good personal PR and bragging was very much expected.
     The Inscription's date and the date of this bldg are very close plus a basement and an upper floor(s) fits the bill.
      A 2nd inscription to him was found in the Forum in 1845 but doesn't really connect him to this *exact* bldg.
    This inscription can be seen on the rightside (N) of this bldg facing the Via di San Pietro in Carcere.
      It's a keystone over a doorway: [Q · Lu]tativs · Q · f · Q · n · C[atulus Consul] · cos · [de · s]en · sent · faciundu[m · coeravit ·] eidemque · prob[avit].
      So it's the popular opinion that this bldg was a 'Public Records Office' which also housed some government offices. Even though there is no record of any such bldg existing.
      So we'll just follow the herd on this :).
      The Tabularium was commissioned by Consul Q. Lutatius Catulus and designed by the architect Cornelius in 78BC.
      It stored public records like deeds, laws, treaties, Senate Decrees, etc and also housed gov't offices.
     The upper half is the Palazzo Senatorio where today Rome's City Council meets and the Mayor has his office.
     In the 11C a fortress was built atop the Tabularium and the Senate probably starting meeting here ~1150AD.
      Later in the 13C a palace fortress with 4 towers was built, these towers also strengthen this ancient structure.
     The tower you see on the right has Pope Bonifatius IX 'Coat of Arms'
    (1398) on the tower.
     In the 16C Michelangelo removed the ancient 2nd floor and built the upper floors we see today.
     The original Tabularium was trapezoidal and over 3000sq/m and it roughly follows the present day building's shape.
     It was a pretty impressive bldg overlooking the Forum but that was short lived.
      The Temple of Concord always blocked part of it on the rightside and more later-on when the temple was enlarged. And ~150yrs later the Temple of Vespasian & Titus was built directly in front of it blocking it even more.
      Ok lets start at the BASEMENT LEVEL;
      There was once something here (in the center to center-left) before the Tabularium was built but we don't know what that bldg was.
     This basement has 6 small windows and rooms with a corridor running its length. Access was by an internal staircase at the Northern end.
      The basement is made-up of that wall you see on your side and on the inner-side it was cut into the tufa rock of the Capitoline Hill.  The Wall is made of Tufa blocks of stone 2RF x 2RF x 4RomanFeet. The stones are laid with 1 row long _____ and the next row short ------ and is called Opus Quadratum. They are also cemented together with a thin layer of cement.
      If you look to the right end section of that Wall you will notice the blocks aren't finished smooth but left rough cut.  That is because the Temple of Concord of which only the base foundation and some fragments survive blocked that section from view.
     It's not known what the basement rooms were used for but they were later used as a prison right up until the 19thC.  And at some point in later history salt (a state monopoly) was stored in this bldg which caused some corrosion to the interior.
     FIRST FLOOR; This floor has 3 large arched windows. Originally that whole floor facing you was made-up of 11 arched
    windows, they were covered-over in the Middle Ages when this was made into a fortress (~100yrs ago only 1 window was open).  You can see this cover-up to the sides of the left and the middle arched windows.
     This floor was actually just a higher level pedestrian gallery/passageway connecting the 2 higher peaks of the Capitoline Hill o====o and not used for any functions of the Tabularium behind, above or below it.
      The half columns you see beside the arched windows are Doric, their capitals and architrave are white Travertine limestone with a Doric frieze of metopes and triglyphs.
     SECOND FLOOR; In the 16C Michelangelo took out the ancient 2nd floor and built the upper level bldg we see today.
      The 2nd floor was either a late 1C AD restoration of the original or was an addition.
      Fragments found in the area show the 2nd floor was Corinthian entirely in Travertine and dated to the Flavian Era (late 1C).
     Its height would have been to just below the 2nd row of modern windows we see today.
      And it was an open gallery with arched windows just like the 1st floor.
      If it is not a Monday you will see tourists in the 3 arched windows on the 1st Floor.
      You can visit that floor from either of the 2 museums on the Capitoline Hill.
      Here are the directions and info;
    Go to and scroll down to the plan/map of the Tabularium.
     #1 is a modern basement corridor that connects the 2 museums (Palazzo Nuovo & Palazzo dei Conservatori).
     This corridor is also a mini-museum with bathrooms and a wheelchair stair lift. But sadly to get into the Tabularium section there are stairs.
     #2: At the top (or bottom) of the stairs leading up from this museum-corridor is the colossal marble statue of Veiovis found in the Temple of Veiovis which very likely was the cult statue that was worshipped in the Temple.
      This Temple is shown on the map in the center as a rectangle of dotted lines -----.
      This marble statue very likely replaced the original 300yr old cult statue that was made of cypress wood and possibly was destroyed in the Major 80AD Fire.
      VE-JOVIS; JOVIS is Jupiter and VE is a prefix that means Negative or Diminutive Value.
      So in the beginning he was sort-of an Anti-Jupiter, later he left the 'Dark Side of the Force' :) and just became a 'Young Jupiter'.
      The temple was vowed in 196BC but by who is unknown and dedicated in 192BC.
      Originally it was a typical rectangular temple but when the Tabularium was built it was rebuilt sideways for space-saving and enclosed by the Tabularium on 2 sides.
      In the late 1stC AD brick piers were added to the cella walls probably to support a concrete roof (original was likely wooden).
      Now on the right-hand side of the corridor at the top of the stairs is a little walk-in nook.
      Behind the glass you can see the rear portion of the high travertine marble pedestal of the Temple of Veiovis and beyond the remains of the large tufa-stone Tabularium wall which was indented to allow for the presence of the temple.
      At the end of this #2 corridor leading to #3 on the right-hand side is a section of the entablature from the nearby Temple of Vespasian and Titus.
     This entablature shows sacrifical instruments and dates to the original Temple (80-85AD).
    #3 Is the section with the 3 large arched windows overlooking the Forum with great photo ops.
      Now as soon as you enter this long gallery look to the left and up.
      That large marble fragment (1stC AD) is a architrave from the Temple of Concord which is right below that 1st arched window (the Temple Vespasian/Titus was just to the right of it).
     Also above you is the best example of the pavilion vaults that made-up the roof of this long gallery.
     Remember this gallery was made-up of 11 arched windows not just the 3 you see today.
      The archways were walled-up in the Middle Ages when this was turned into a fort.
      And right up until recent times only one archway was open (I think it might be the 1st one?).
     In the middle of this gallery if you see a small plexiglass section that covers an air vent for a basement water main (late 1st C).
      #4 Is halfway down the gallery and is a large high open room where you can look into the basement.
      The partial floor paving you see is from the Republican Era (pre-44BC). Other floor remains are from a bldg that predates the Tabularium also
    that metal grate covers a cistern that was lined in Opus Signinum.

     Also in 1 of the 3 rooms is a mosaic floor (white background with irregular chips of colored marble) that is the oldest in Rome (2nd half of 2C BC).
      And you can see 1 of the 6 windows of the basement level.

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    Ok now still sitting behind the Rostra. Look to the right and below the Tabularium's 3rd window also in front of the Tower and beneath the modern staircase.
    There you'll see an ugly raised platform made of concrete and rubble (opus caementicium) with a few marble fraqments lying around.
     That is what remains of the Temple of Concord aka Concordia, Concordia Augusta.
      Concord basically means harmony, agreement.
      Concordia is a Roman goddess taken from the Greek goddess Harmonia.
     This Concordia Temple originally was for agreement, understanding and martial harmony.
     Later (10AD) when it was rebuilt and became the Temple of Concordia Augusta it was for harmony in the Imperial family.
      If you are a fan of HBO's Rome you might recall in the 2nd season when Vorenus calls the heads of the criminal gangs together for a meeting.
     Priests arrive with a Concordia statue to ensure peace & harmony at this meeting, later Vorenus smashes the Goddess' statue.
      Traditionally the 1st temple was built in 367 BC by M. Furius Camillus
      This temple celebrated the Licinian Laws which after ~100yr power struggle between the Patricians (aristocracy) and the Plebeians (common people).
      These Laws gave debt, land and work reform to the poor Plebeians plus a single voice in the government.
    Many modern historians are sceptical that this 367BC temple was ever built.
     And believe that in 218BC Praetor Lucius Manlius actually built the 1st Temple of Concord here.  
     In 211 B.C. the statue of Victory on its roof was struck down by lightning.  
     That temple was completely restored in 121BC by Consul Lucius Opimius. It is still a conventional rectangular temple 41m x 30m.
     This restoration followed the murder of the Tribute of the Plebians Gaius Gracchus.
      There was basically a major political mob civil war going on between the Plebians and a Patrician faction.
     The Plebs lost (3000 executed without trial) and the Senate (Patricians) ordered this Temple restoration to show everyone everything was just A-OK and couldn't be better...Plebs aren't happy, this new restored temple is just spitting in their faces.
      And for an added kick in the toga; At the same time as this restoration Consul Opimius also builds the Basilica Opimia next to it (on the otherside of the modern stairs beneath the present day ground level).
      Opimius promised any man who brought him Gracchus' head the same weight in gold.
      Gracchus with the help of his slave killed himself before capture just on the otherside of the Tiber.
      Then some guy just chops off his head and later pours lead in it and cashes it in:).
      A decade earlier in the Forum his older brother Tiberius was killed in a political street fight along with 300 others.
     The Roman Senate also meets here on occasion (since 121BC) and Cicero made his fourth Catiline Speech and possibly another earlier Catiline Speech inside.
      On March 15, 44BC after Brutus and his boys killed Julius Caesar they barricaded themselves in the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill.
      Later in the day they came down and assembled in the portico of the Temple of Concord to address the crowd in the Roman Forum to explain why they killed Caesar.
      History claims either they did have their say and Brutus spoke or they were forced back to the Capitoline by an angry mob.
      Cicero although not a conspirator was on their side and supposedly with them there.
      I assume they chose this temple for its symbolic meaning (harmony, agreement, etc).
      OK what we see today is from 10AD restoration.
      But much of this concrete core belongs to the 121BC reconstruction and is probably the oldest known concrete in the city.
      The only surviving parts are the podium and the threshold of the door of the cella (2 huge slabs of pink-grey Chian Marble) and a fragment of the entablature in the Tabularium (look up into the window above and you can see it) also 2 column bases and a Corinthian capital are in the Forum Museum but sadly not on display.
      Also in the podium are two chambers which may have been storerooms for treasure (common in temples).
     If you look beneath the window you'll notice the Tabularium's foundation stones are rough-cut compared to the rest of that level.
      That is because when the Tabularium was built it butted against this 121BC temple so these stones were unseen and no need to finish-cut them.
      And as you can see that earlier temple was narrower than this 10AD rebuilding.
      In 10AD Tiberius (not Emperor yet) with his spoils of war from Germany. And in his name and that of his dead brother Drusus rebuilts, enlarges and dedicates this as the 'Temple of Concordia Augusta' on Jan 16, 10AD.
      Now to enlarged this temple within this limited space it's flipped sideways to make it bigger, meaning it's alot wider than it is deep (45m
    x 24m).
      I want you to picture this temple using this coin image and the scant remains that you see
      You'll notice the actual temple foundation remains are in 3 sections.   The lowest is the stairs = that lead up to the columned porch +, this
    porch like the stairs is narrower than the actual temple [].  So we have []+= but what we see is the porch + and the stairs = right alongside that modern staircase so the upper [] or right section section of the temple is actually beneath those modern stairs.
    Now look at the coin photo;
    At the peak are embracing 3 figures, most likely the Goddess Concordia flanked by 2 other female deities who were either PAX (peace) & SALUS (health) or SECURITAS (security) & FORTUNA (good fortune).
      On each side are statues of Tiberius and his brother holding spears and on each side of them statues carrying the war booty (armor & trophies).
      This was PR for Tiberius saying "I personally built this with the booty from my victorious German war".
      And at each end a statue of Victory. 
     The statues on the staircase are of Hercules representing security in the Empire and of Mercury prosperity in the Empire.
     Inside the temple you can see the seated statue of the Goddess Concordia.
      The blank pediment in real life would have had sculptures within.
      Also on the temple's threshold inlaid in bronze was Mercury's Wand (caduceus) which was an emblem of peace.
      Tiberius in reality made this now beautiful temple into a museum/temple. Inside were some of the greatest works of art of the time (mostly Greek sculpture and panel paintings) along with other ancient treasures.
      The greatest treasure within was the sardonyx (onyx/gem) signet (a seal ring) that was thrown into the sea by the pirate-ruler 'Polycrates of Samos' (~540BC) as an offering to Fortune.
      Only to have it returned (rejected) later in the belly of a fish and dooming the tyrant.
    It was given to the temple by Livia Augustus' wife and was kept in a golden horn.
      Emperor Augustus also gave the temple 4 elephants carved in Obsidian (black volcanic glass).
      It's believed the last rebuilding of this temple was after the 284AD Fire.

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      Still sitting there behind the Rostra see the 3 tall standing columns in front of you.
     Those are the remains of a Temple built there following the death of Emperor Vespasian in 79AD that was to be dedicated to him alone.
     HIs eldest son Titus became Emperor upon his death and started this Temple but died 26 months later (81AD).
     Domitian who was the younger son and brother to Titus now (sadly) becomes Emperor.
     He completes the Temple and dedicates it to both his Father and Brother.
    Even though it was dedicated to both of them the Architrave on the front only mentioned Vespasian
     [DIVO · VESPASIANO · AVGVSTO· S·P·Q·R·] Divine Vespasian Augustus (from) 'The Senate and the People of Rome'.
     That section is long gone but was copied in Medieval Times (7-8thC).      
     This Temple was 33m long and 22m wide and had to be squeezed in lengthwise into this small space between the Tabularium and the Clivus Capitolinus which is the ancient street you see before you running uphill to the Capitoline Hill.
      Because of this limited space they have to adjust the front steps.  Most temple steps go up to a columned porch but these steps go up to the porch and then in-between the columns, if not they would have been much too steep.
      But like most of this temple they are long gone except for a small section of stairs between the 2 front columns.
      What remains today is the core of the podium (foundation) with a bit of Peperino lining, a couple of Travertine fragments from the Cella Wall and in the back of the temple is part of a pedestal that once held the statues of Vespasian and Titus.
      But the best survivor of this temple are the three tall standing white marble Corinthian columns (14.2m) with an inscribed section of the Architrave and a decorated section of the Entablature still in place on top, all from the original temple.
      This ARCHITRAVE has only 1 incomplete word on it which is ESTITUER and if you put an R in front of it it means RESTORED.
       In the early 200's AD a 2nd line was added to the original Vespasian dedication inscription
      Basically Emperor Septimius Severus and Caracalla (his son) restored (this).
      It didn't seem to be a major restoration and I find it odd that there was plenty of room for a 2nd line inscription on the architrave but Domitian never added his brother Titus to it?  Dad always liked Titus the best and never really groomed Domitian to become Emperor, he had always assumed Titus and his heirs would carry-on their dynasty.
      Brother rivalry perhaps? Or maybe he figured when he died they could add him and his brother to the inscription and dedicate the Temple to the 3 of them?
      But that never happened, when Domitian was assassinated all his statues were pulled down and anything inscribed to him was erased.  
     On the side of the Architrave is an ENTABLATURE with a nice frieze showing an adorned Bull skull (some say Ox) and implements of Sacrifice (jug/amphora, knife, axe, plate, aspergillum {stick with a ball on top for sprinkling a liquid- water? blood?}, spiked helmet and the start of a 2nd Bull skull).
      A small 2 story concrete and brick vaulted marble-lined Shrine (gone today) was built on the rightside and attached to this Temple.  Marks of it's vault can still be seen on the Tabularium wall and 'Temple Vespasian' roughworked remains (unseen- blocked by this shrine so just left rough) were also excavated there. It's believed it was a Shrine dedicated to Emperor Titus.
      Also a restored Cornice fragment from the Temple Vespasian is in the Tabularium, nearby the piece from the Temple of Concord that you can see in the Tabularium's far right window.
      The walls inside the Cella were covered with oriental marbles with marble columns around it.
      The outside of the Temple was faced in white marble.
      I believe nothing major was in this space before because nothing is mentioned AFAIK.
      But there was a staircase leading from here thru the Tabularium to atop the Capitoline Hill.
      This staircase predates the Tabularium so perhaps this area was always open to provide access to the Capitoline Hill via these stairs?
      With the building of this Temple the Tabularium is now almost completely blocked from view from the Forum.
      In 1811 the podium and remaining stairs were restored by Giuseppe Valadier and in that same period French archaeologists took down the columns and architrave/entablature and restored and secured them in place.
      VESPASIAN was a General who took over as Emperor after defeating Vitellius in the 'Year of the Four Emperors' Civil Wars.
     He was a decent Emperor to the people and is mainly remembered as the builder of the Flavian Amphitheatre (Colosseum).
     He was from a very modest background compared to the earlier Emperors.
      His father was a tax-collector of Equestrian rank (a Knight) and his mother the same social status.
     Vespasian and his brother both became Senators which moved the family's status up a few notches.
      But *very unlikely* high enough to ever become Emperor but having a victorious army helped him get over that little speedbump:).
     He always kept his soldier's rough sense of humor even to his dying day.
     Titus once complained about his father's public 'Urinal Tax' and Vespasian held a coin under his son's nose and said "Does it smell bad"?
     His final joke was on his deathbed with his last words "O Dear, I think I'm turning into a God".
      Emperors were often deified (made into Gods) after their deaths:).     
     What I find interesting and wonder about is.
      This ancient outdoor staircase that lead from the Forum to the Asylum on the Capitoline Hill.
      The Asylum was a low point between the two higher crests at each end of the hill.
      These stairs became an internal corridor when the Tabularium was built over them but allowed no access to the interior of the Tabularium.
     At the end of Vitellius' reign forces loyal to Vespasian are marching on Rome.
      In Rome is Vespasian's elder brother Sabinus who is the City Prefect and Vespasian's younger (~18) son Domitian.
     Vitellius is leaving them alone (they have an agreement) but some people are trying to get Sabinus to seize power in the name of his brother.
      But he's contend to wait it out.
      The Vitellius' army in Rome is basically now just a unruly mob. Sabinus and some of these soldiers have a minor confrontation with
     Sabinus and his out-numbered followers including Domitian decide to hole-up in 'Temple of Jupiter' on the 'easy to defend' Capitoline Hill (this is also where Julius Caesar's assassins went after his murder for the same reason).
     The mob-army marches up the Clivus Capitolinus but is repelled by Sabinus' forces who are throwing stones and roof tiles at them from a porticus above that lined the rightside of the street.
     Sabinus' men have uprooted statues and all kinds of stuff to barricade the gates.
      Later the mob-army attack at different points at the same time.
      One of the points were these stairs.
      It's the most direct access to the Hill and was the most violent of those attacks.
      And they finally broke thru.  
     The Temple of Jupiter is burned down and Sabinus is taken prisoner. He is later stabbed, hacked and beheaded, and his body is displayed on
    the 'Gemonian Stairs' (to your right and mentioned earlier).
     Domitian hids in the Temple caretaker's shack and later with the help of a Freedman dresses as a priest and escapes by leaving with a group of priests.
      Now when the 'Temple of Vespasian and Titus' is built that staircase is blocked-off by the Temple's construction.  I just wonder if there is a connection (symbolic or practical) between that Battle, that staircase and this Temple's location which blocked that staircase off forever?
      TITUS was a good commander of his Legions, very intelligent and talented.
      He was also a lawyer and good administrator under his father's reign.
     But also a bit of a 'party animal' with a fondness for catamites and eunuchs.
      The Senate and Roman people were afraid that he would become a 2nd Nero if he ever became Emperor.
     But when he became Emperor he turned out just fine for his short term (2yrs, 2 months).
      He dealt with the Vesuvius eruption (79) and the major 80AD Fire of Rome quite well.
      Besides his still standing Arch he is most remembered today for the burning of the 'Temple of Jerusalem' and his very brutal conquest of Judea.
     While on campaign in Judea he met a Jewish Princess named Berenice who was the daughter of King Herod Agrippa I.  And they began a love affair.
     She moves to Rome in 75AD where they live openly in the Palace on the Palatine Hill.
      Titus has been divorced for years and she is for all intent and purposes his wife or at least viewed that way by the Romans.  
     Later with Titus' accession to the Throne this isn't a good thing. Remember Titus has a bad rep at this time (2nd Nero!) and the mood in
    Rome is anti-semitic and xenophopia.
      Plus she would have been thought of as a 2nd Cleopatra (and you see where that got Marc Antony).
     Titus has no choice, the Senate and the People would never stand for this union, so he must send her away.
      Suetonius wrote that their parting was very painful for both of them.
     They never saw each other again ;(.

     Shortly later in his life as Titus lay dying he looks up into the Heavens and says;
    "...there is no act of my life of which I have cause to repent, save one only".
     He never revealed his secret repentance.

    Titus gave up Love to rule an Empire and now among millions of subjects he is dying alone.
    And has but one regret?

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      Ok now still sitting behind the Rostra, ya might have to stand-up to see it :) or just take that uphill street ~40m to the Portico structure on the right (on the leftside of the Temple of Vespasian & Titus).
      They don't know much about it or what it was actually called in ancient times so the archaeologists have named it the 'Portico of the Dei Consentes' (aka 'Porticus Deorum Consentium') for the Counsellor Gods & Goddess' that were displayed here in the form of 12 gilted bronze statues (From here on I am just going to write Gods/ess for Gods & Goddess').
     These Gods/ess were the Roman version of the 12 Athenian Gods/ess and were paired-off 1 Male God to 1 Female Goddess (Jupiter-Juno, Neptune-Minerva, Apollo-Diana, Mars-Venus, Vulcan-Vesta, Mercury-Ceres).
     Basically what you see today is from the 1C-AD rebuild and later restorations.
      This 'rebuild' was very likely by Vespasian's boys because it *seems* that when they built dad's temple it cut into this area so they had too shorten-up this Portico.
     This Cult of Gods/ess was likely introduced to the Romans in the Late 3C-BC, around the time of Hannibal's 2nd Punic War.
     In 174BC according to Livy a Portico once ran from the Temple of Saturn (the one with 8 columns next to you) over to the Senaculum (now beneath that present-day church you see on the otherside of the Arch of Septimius Severus).
     This portico really dressed-up this end of the Forum serving as a nice backdrop.
    [Begin Guessing]
      From what *I* gather they think that this Portico perhaps originally held the 12 Gods/ess statues spaced along its length?  Now when they built (121BC) the Temple of Concord and the Basilica Opimia it would have very likely cut-off that section.  But it was possibly still intact up to the Temple of Concord.
     So the Vespasian boys would have had to remove that section of portico in order to build the Temple of Vespasian.  
      So now they only have a short section of the original portico left on the side of the Temple but still have 12 Gods/ess to house.  So it seems that the boys rebuilt this Portico section to house the 12 within this now very limited space. And at this point it's more like a Shrine rather than a functional everyday Portico which is basically a covered walkway.
     Now if a run-of-the-mill Portico was in the way of their Temple they would have just demolished it without a thought.  But if it was a Portico that housed Gods/ess even if its time had past as a functioning walkway the superstitious Romans aren't about to kick 12 Major Gods/ess to the street and incur their wraith.
     So *it seems* that the Vesasians built this shrine-like Portico who's only function was to house these Gods & Goddess'?
     So what you have is just a short dog-legged __/ section of a portico, one source called this new structure "...ungainly makeshift". [End Guessing]
      This area was 1st excavated in 1547 but that was just to strip the marble-facing on the brick walls of the lower rooms.
     In 1832-35 this area was archaeologically excavated and in 1858 the Portico and the rooms were reconstructed.
     The large capitals of Travertine laying on the ground in front of the Portico are believed to have once been part of the outside upper floor of the Tabularium.
     Also in the original 19C excavation they said that fragments of the 'Arch of Tiberius' were also found there?
      If so I'd be inclined to believe that the Arch was cannabalized to make a later (Medieval?) structure in this location?
      Ok let's start with the ROOMS and leave the colonnade for last.
     Now beneath this structure facing the leftside of the Temple of Vespasian/Titus are 6 brick-faced concrete rooms.
     And above them behind the colonnade are 7 brick-faced concrete rooms.
      These rooms were small, dark and windowless and we can only guess at their purpose.
     Let's start with the 6 BASEMENT ROOMS;
      They seem to be small office spaces and Cicero has mentioned the "Clerks of the Clivius Capitolinus" so that's a possibly for them.   Another source suggests they were shops of some kind.
      6 rooms are intact but the 7th on the right is missing its roof, its rightside and part of the front.
     Some sources believe there were more rooms (where Vespasian's Temple now is), probably 12 with 1 for each God/ess?
     It's possible that the statues were displayed within the rooms but that seems very odd and irregular to have them out of sight & hidden?
     A guess? Perhaps they were just individual shrines to each God/ess with the statues in front of them?
     Some sources think that these were the Clerk Offices while others think that the statues were displayed in pairs in the 6 intact rooms?
     But it's very possible they had some other utilitarian purpose completely unrelated to the Portico or Statues?
     The rear wall of those rooms on the left is actually a very ancient Tufa retaining wall which supported the Clivius Capitolinus (street).  
      Most believe were either displayed in-between the columns or on the trapezoidal area that was paved in marble in front of the colonnade.  
     Varro wrote that the statues stood "ad forum" which one source believes meant in that paved area in front of the portico?    IMO if you want to pair the Gods & Goddess' together and make it alot more visually striking, putting the statues in the open with the portico as a backdrop seems to be the better option?
     The PORTICO;
      Well we know it was likely built by the Vespasian boys, so 80'sAD.
     Now there was also a major fire in 80AD that destroyed this area along with a good chunk of Rome.
      Maybe this is all tied-in?
      The original Portico is destroyed and must be rebuilt so why not put dad's Temple in that burned-out space and rebuilt the Gods/ess Portico on a smaller scale next to it?
    There were 12 CORINTHIAN COLUMNS made of Carystian/Cipollino green marble from Greece but the 5 columns on the right are a modern restoration (1858) of White Travertine columns.
     The original columns on the left are fluted but the modern replacements on the right are unfluted?
     Also the lower section of the original columns are ornamented with astragals (a beaded decoration).
     One source claims that the original righthand columns were unfluted Carystian marble.
     If so, either there was a reason in the original construction for this difference (perhaps displaying male Gods & female Goddess' on seperate sides?).
     Or it's possible in a later (367AD?) restoration money was tight and another bldg or monument was cannibalized (very common in the Late Empire).
     The original CAPITALS are Corinthian with the sides decorated with reliefs representing trophies.
     The ARCHITRAVE INSCRIPTION is a bit historical, in that this was the last Pagan monument restored in Rome.
     It was restored by 'Vettius Agorius Praetextatus' in 367AD who was the 'Prefect of the City' (Praefectus Urbi) and is recorded in the inscription.
    [The inscription reads: deorum cONSENTIUM SACROSANCTA SIMVLACRA CVM OMNI LOci totius adornatioNE CVLTV IN formam antiquam restituto vETTIVS PRAETEXTATVS · V · C · PRAefectus uRBI reposuit CVRANTE LONGEIO . . . . . . . v · c · cONSVLARI]
     Praetextatus, his wife and a group of supporters were intellectuals staunchly fighting-on in support of Paganism which is rapidly dying-out.
     There are 11 surviving inscriptions of Praetextatus and his wife Paulina like this one
     But the most important one was found right here along the Clivus Capitolinus (the street leading-up to the Portico).
     It was his and his wife's long funerary epitaph which was a poem in Iambic Senarii. It was published in 1750.
      The inscription is now in the Capitoline Museum.  
     He was one of the last official opponents of Christianity, although he won't live too see it in 394AD the last Pagan Temple (Vesta-Vestal Virgins) in Rome is closed.
     The rooms behind the Portico were also restored by him, who knows perhaps *then* he had to put his Gods & Goddess' inside to protect them from those Christians :).

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    The Clivus Capitolinus is a road/street. A Clivus is just a Via (road/street) like in the Via Sacra (Sacred Way
    or Sacred Road/Street) except Clivus means a steep road/street.   In this case it is a road that climbs-up the Capitoline Hill, so basically a steep road (Clivus) to the Capitoline Hill (Capitolinus).
     This road starts over in the SW corner of the Roman Forum Sq. So if you are still sitting behind the Rostra facing the Capitoline
    Hill; 90deg to your right is the Arch of S. Severus and 90deg to your left is the SW corner of the Forum Sq.
     It's where the 90deg turn in the road is on the leftside of the Temple of Saturn.
     This road runs alongside the leftside of the Temple of Saturn, then turns and cuts across the front of the Temple, then runs uphill along the rightside of the Temple, past the Porticus of the Dei Consentes and up to the Capitoline Hill.
     Originally this road was just a simple dirt path but at the end of the Regal Period (509BC) it was made into a road (unpaved) now suitable for wheeled traffic.
     The original dirt path and later road led to the Arx which was the low point between the 2 higher peaks of the Capitoline Hill O----O.
     The Arx is roughly where the modern Piazza del Campidoglio is today, so this original path/road turned into the Hill just past the Portico Dei Consentes and went to the saddle between the 2 peaks.
     Also a branch was added to the Temple of Jupiter on the left or South peak of the Hill when this dirt path was turned into a road.  This path was the only approach to the Hill until the stairs (mentioned earlier behind the Arch of S. Severus) were built to the Arx.
     It was 1st paved in Lava stones in 174BC and a porticus was erected on the rightside of the road from the Temple of Saturn to the Temple of Jupiter (or very nearby).
     Sections of this original 174BC paving still exist (rightside of Temple) along with sections from Sulla's rule 80's BC (probably leftside of Temple).
     The section in front of the Temple/Saturn is one of the best specimens of Augustan Era (31BC-14AD) paving in Rome.
      Ok let's start at the beginning of this road which is on the leftside of the Temple of Saturn or SW corner of the Forum.
      Sulla (General, Consul, Dictator) in the 80's BC rebuilt this section of road but most importantly the ground below the road.
     A series of small underground arches running the length of that section were built to raise-up that section of road ^--^--^--^ which was then paved over.
     Perhaps the surrounding area's ground level had risen over the centuries and these arches raised the road to the current ground level?  Or perhaps it was to make the incline more gradual and less steep?
      As you can see the road that runs alongside the Forum Sq. also inclines up at the end to met this Clivus. Remember this road carries wheeled traffic also.
     Then the road U-turns in front of the Temple of Saturn and starts up the Hill.  This uphill section is the most interesting.   Now originally it turned just after the Porticus Dei Consentes and I mentioned in that section that the backwalls of those rooms on the left behind the colonade was actually a supporting structure for this road.
     But our road today goes straight and doesn't turn at the Porticus. This I assume either was the original branch-off (doubtful) to the
    Temple of Jupiter but more than likely a much later branch.
      The Clivus becomes an important road when the Romans start doing Triumphal Parades which end at the Temple of Jupiter, so the section that goes straight to the Temple becomes the main street.
     So now we have a main ceremonial street with a porticus (covered sidewalk) along the rightside.
      In 190BC Scipio Africanus erects a nice decorative arch at the top of the Clivus.
      Livy says there were nine gilded bronze statues and a pair of horses on top of the Arch. The statues were very likely of Scipio and his family. Also Cicero mentions private homes along the Clivus, both the arch and houses were probably in the Arx section of the Clivus.
     Halfway up the Clivus close to the Temple of Saturn very likely on the left was the Porta Stercoraria.
     This was a closed gate that opened into an alley (Angiportus). Every June 15 the gate was opened for a 'taking out the trash ceremony'
     In the Temple of Vesta the Vestal Virgins kept a sacred fire burning 24/7/365.
     The ashes from this sacred fire are stored beneath this Temple. And once a year these sacred ashes (stercus) were removed and taken
    thru this gate and over to the Tiber River and dumped in.
      A 'Triumph' or 'Triumphal Parade/March' was awarded to a victorious General or sometimes the Emperor who was just grabbing all the glory of his General's victory.
      The Clivus was the last leg of these military parades.
     The parade would enter the Forum with the General or Emperor in a ceremonial chariot followed by wagon loads of war trophies (gold/silver/gems, money, artworks, anything of value), captured chained leaders (Kings, Rulers, Generals) to be publicly executed and POW's and civilians to either be sold into slavery or killed in the Games for entertainment.
     The captured leaders, POW's and civilians would branch off somewhere in the Forum away from the parade and exit by the Curia.
     But the victorious General or Emperor with his entourage would continue on to the Clivus Capitolinus and up to the Temple of Jupiter.
      There the General or Emperor would sacrifice a snow-white bull to Jupiter to thank and honor him for their victory.
    Take Julius Caesar's Triumph where the signs 'veni, vidi, vici' (I came , I saw, I conquered) were carried, it lasted 3 days.
      And later Brutus and his fellow conspirators marched up this Clivus right after they murdered Caesar and barricaded themselves in the Temple of Jupiter.
     Also troops would be stationed here when something was going on in the Forum (speeches, funerals, ceremonies, etc) in case the locals got rowdy.
      Remember the 'Year of the Four Emperors' when the future Emperor Domitian is on the Capitoline Hill under attack and later escapes dressed as a priest after the battle?
     This is from 'Tacitus' who details the battle fought on the Clivus Capitolinus.
    "Martialis had scarcely regained the Capitol when the infuriated troops appeared.
      They had no leader, and each man followed his own devices. At a rapid pace, the column galloped past the Forum and the Temples
    abutting on it, and charged up the slope opposite as far as the outer gate of the Capitoline Hill.
      At that time, there was a row of *porticoes on the right-hand side of the Clivus Capitolinus* as you go up.
      The defenders got on to the roof of the colonnade and assailed the Vitellians with stones and tiles.
      The enemy for their part were armed only with swords, and thought it would take too long to bring up artillery or missiles.   So they hurled firebrands at a projecting portico, followed the flames as they spread uphill, and would have forced the charred gates of the Capitol, had not Sabinus uprooted the statues with which past generations had adorned the whole area, and so formed an improvised barricade at the actual entrance".

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    Still sitting behind the Rostra, look to the left at the 8 standing columns with the top connecting section (architrave) still in place.
    That is the 'Temple of Saturn'.

    This is the oldest temple in the Forum that they actually are records on in the Pontifical Archives, the exact date is unclear but somewhere between 501-493BC but usually placed ~497.

     A couple of *Traditions* put it earlier, one to 3rd King of Rome (673+BC) and another to the last (7th) King of Rome (535+BC).  Bottomline; A recorded temple was built here just after the Kings were overthrown and Rome became a Republic (509BC) which possibly replaced an earlier temple.  

     Nothing much is known about this 1st temple except that it was probably built like an Etruscan temple and was similar to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill.

     Tradition says it was built on the spot where Hercules dedicated an altar to Saturn.
    But that myth over the years got the *exact location* mixed-up with the 'Altar of Saturn' *in front* of the temple?

     Not much is known about the early God Saturn but originally he might have been a God for farming (crops & herds) or possibly an Etruscan god named Satre. (I think the evidence points to a farming God).

     But by the 3rdC-BC Saturn merges with the Greek God Kronos and becomes a 'Party' God which makes him *very popular* with the Romans:).

     His festival is called Saturnalia where adults exchange gifts and children get small earthenware dolls.
    Rules are relaxed and the Partying begins, public gambling is allowed, informal clothes are worn rather than the toga, everyone wears a pilleus which is a felt cap worn by Freedmen to show liberty, sometimes Masters and slaves even exchange roles but more often the slaves just get a vacation from their duties.
     After a huge number of animal sacrifices at the temple there is a large public feast.
     Originally just a 1 day festival but by Julius Caesar's day it's a week long party:).
     Party-pooper Emperor Augustus tried to limit it to 3 days but no one paid him any attention.

     Saturnalia originally started on Dec. 17 but by the time Paganism fell it was closer to New Years and with that fall this very popular Pagan holiday became Christmas.

    Saturn's statue was unusual by Roman standards, it was hollow and held olive oil within it, many sources even say it was made of wood.

    Saturn wears a toga but is bare chested and veiled (toga draped over head-face visible) and holds a pruning knife or sickle.
    Also the feet are bound in wool thru out the year but released for the Saturnalia.

     Olive oil and the sickle are related to farming and possibly the bound feet represent the farmers flock contained to his land and not wandering away.
     But later the unbound feet represent the freedom to cut-loose and raise Hell for the week of Saturnalia.

     This statue would also be carried in military Triumphs.

    In 42BC L. Munatius Plancus is Consul along with Lipidus. Plancus has a pocketful of war booty from his Alpine victory and decides he's going to rebuilt and enlarge this temple.

    This was the last major temple rebuilt/constructed by a private person which was very common to get your name out there for political purposes.
    But once Augustus becomes Emperor all temple projects will be state funded and the Emperors will get the credit.

    No traces of the pre-42BC earlier temples are visible today but we can see remains of this 42BC temple.
     Like the podium (the foundation's concrete core 40×22.5m height 9m) and its outer Travertine facing.

     In 283AD a massive fire destroys this temple and much of the Forum.
    Emperor Diocletian rebuilds the temple on top of the 42BC podium which keeps it the same size.

     But this temple's reconstruction is haphazard which is very common in the later Empire.
      And you can see this half-as... opps I mean haphazard construction technique today. This type of construction is called 'Spolia' which means using recycled elements from older buildings, so you get alot of mismatching pieces.

     The COLUMNS are mostly recycled and not all the columns, bases and capitals match-up.
     The columns are all Egyptian Granite, the 6 in front are grey and the 2 on the sides are pink and they come from a few different colonnades.
     3 are monoliths but the others were made by joining 2 broken columns together some upside-down.

    The BASES are also different Attic and Corinthian with and without a plinth.

     The marble IONIC CAPITALS on top of the columns were made new for this rebuilding.

     And the ARCHITRAVE blocks are very likely from the original 42BC temple as they date to around that time.
    The inner side of these blocks are decorated with leaves and palmettes.
     And on top of the architrave there were statues of Tritons with horses (most likely bronze).
     The INSCRIPTION on the architrave was once inlaid with bronze letters.
     It reads:
    "Senatus populusque romanus incendio consumptum restituit"; meaning "The Roman senate and people restored what fire had consumed".

     Now this temple was also restored in 360-380 AD by some disgruntled Senators hoping to revive Paganism.
    Most (now dead) archaeologists and historians *always* placed the inscription with the 283AD rebuilding but the Oxford Archaeological Guide places it with the 360-380AD rebuilding?
    I'm assuming it's a mistake or do they have more recent evidence? But most likely it was the 283 rebuilding caused by fire.

     I've also read that Emperor Septimius Severus (193-211AD) did some restoration on the Temple and also possibly some restoration (fire? architectural problems?) shortly after it was built during Augustus' reign.

    NOW WALK OVER TO THE LEFTSIDE OF THE TEMPLE, see a couple of steps that leads into a area that would be beneath the massive temple's front stairs.
    This was the entrance into the AERARIUM or TREASURY.
     You can see the holes for the door on the leftside and also in the threshold at your feet.
    Some of these holes were for the hinges and the round ones to support locking bars.

     Also look to the left of this door, there is a large block of travertine projecting from the podium/platform with large holes for metal fastening there was either a statue or *column* once there.
    They never found exactly where the Miliarium Aureum was located in that general area...I wonder?

     Also on this side of the podium holes remain from where a plate was attached for the posting of public documents and acts pertinent to the Aerarium.
      Also it's believed that other public notices might have been posted on the long street-level wall of the Temple on your left (perfect spot for a bulletin board).        
     This Aerarium/treasury was actually 2 seperate treasuries located beneath the temple in the podium/foundation i.e. the basement of the bldg.

     And this doorway opened into a room beneath the temple steps in which this basement treasury could only be entered. (BTW temple steps were always odd numbered so your 1st and last step into a temple was on the right foot, superstition.)

     One treasury was a common treasury funded by taxes and used to run the State.

     The other treasury was like a 'rainy day' fund. It was funded by war spoilts and a 5% tax on freed slaves and only to be used in emergencies (war, famine, etc).

     The common treasury was started when Rome threw-out the Kings and became a Republic (509BC).

     The emergency treasury was started after the Gauls sacked Rome in 390BC (and likely burned-down this temple).

    Sometime during the Imperial Age (post 29BC) the Emperors took charge of these treasuries and the money was considered their's alone.
     But they left a seperate smaller treasury section for the Senate to run day-to-day governmental things.

     Also during the Republic 'The Standards of the Legions' were kept here along with bronze Law tablets, decrees from the Senate and financial records.
    These tablets, decrees and records were probably moved to the Tabularium (78BC).

     There was a pair of scales inside, it sounds like they were ceremonial but also functioning scales.
     I wonder if they were in this 1st room beneath the stairs? Weighing the gold and silver has it came in or out?

     Now while standing in this doorway travel back to 49BC.  Julius Caesar has crossed the Rubicon River and marched into Rome unopposed.

    It's civil war and General Pompey and his troops with much of the Senate have left Rome, they plan to organize other Legions and fight Caesar when the time is right.

     But they left behind the Treasury and Caesar wants it!

    Wars and loyalites cost money and there is a Jackpot behind that door.

    So picture Caesar standing before this door.
    He has ordered the keys brought to him but they cannot be found.

    Caesar then orders his men to break-down the door.
    A Tribune named Caecilius Metellus loudly protests to Caesar that it is wrong to break-in to Rome's Treasury and steal the money!

     Caesar looks to the Tribune and then raised his voice and threatened to kill him if he did not stop interfering.

    "And young man, you know well enough that I dislike saying this more than I would dislike doing it."

    He then broke down the door and removed fifteen thousand bars of gold, thirty thousand bars of silver, and fifty million sesterces of coined money.

     In the early days of Rome when its wealth was in the havest and its flocks it's believed that the citizens brought small offerings of their crops and flocks to this temple for Saturn to bless and guard the remainder.

     Later as Rome expands and becomes rich Saturn is still called upon to guard their wealth which is now gold, silver, etc.   So this might be why the Roman Treasury ended-up in the Temple of Saturn.

     And according to Plutarch.

    "Or is this a matter of ancient history, and was Valerius Publicola the first to make the temple of Saturn the treasury, when the kings had been overthrown, because he believed that the place was well-protected, in plain sight, and hard to attack (rob) secretly?"

     Also when Julius Caesar was in power there was a urban legend that he replaced many of the gold bars with gold painted lead bars to enhance his personal wealth.

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    Ok now, turn your back on the Temple of Saturn and walk back over to the rightside of the Rostra.
     Below the railing you will see the remains of a small room with remains of a marble paved floor and some upright marble wall slabs.

    That is the 'SCHOLA XANTHA', 'Schola' means basically in this case a business office for the clerks and bean counters in charge of 'public works'.

     And 'Xantha' is a modern name given to this bldg based on an inscription (a person's name), they don't know what it was actually called in ancient times.
    Now remember originally at this end of the Rostra ||||||| Emperor Augustus set-up the Miliarium Aureum o in 20BC to match the Umbilicus Urbis o at the other end of the Rosta, like this o|||||||||o.

     But it seems that during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (Augustus' successor) it was moved across the street and a small building was built here right against the Rostra, like this o|||||||||==.

     Ok now, why put a business office in this prime location? Because these boys are the clerks, copyists and herolds of the 'Curule Aediles' in charge of public works like aqueducts, sewers, markets, temples, public games, festivals and many etc's possibly even brothels:).

     So you got money going out and in on these government contracts and the money is kept across the street under the Temple of Saturn in the treasury.
     So it's an excellent location to transact this exchange, I mean ya don't want gold, silver and coins *accidently* falling of the cart in transit:).
     Plus it puts these gov't contract money exchanges in public view with the appearance of honestly, the shady dealings have already been made behind closed doors anyway:).

    This bldg was 1st excavated in 1540 when they were looting the Forum of its marble for Renaissance bldgs and lime kilts.  So much more once existed but was destroyed and its location was even lost.

     And later for a long time it was believed that the seven chambers beneath the 'Porticus Deorum Consentium' was actually the Schola Xantha.

     But in that 1540 excavation a double inscription on the architrave over the entrance was found. It was destroyed but they did record the inscription.
      It said that during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (14-37AD) an Imperial Freedman named Bebryx along with 'Aulus Fabius XANTHUS' (where they got the modern name XANTHA) built this Schola for the clerks and herolds of the Curule Aediles.

     This was a very elaborate office the inscription goes on to say that "placed there were 7 silver images on brackets, a bronze table, faced the walls with marble, erected a statue of Victory and furnished it with bronze seats and several ornaments".

    The 2nd later inscription was added during the reign of Emperor Caracalla (211-217AD) and said that 'C. Avillius Licinius Trosius' restored the schola.

     Also if you look at the right-end of this bldg you will see a bricked half circle (think small brick pizza oven) which is below its floor level.
     That is a hypocaust which is actually a wood-fired furnace. The bldg's floor is raised and supported on small brick piers which create a large void below the floor.
     A fire is built just inside this half circle opening which heated the floor in cold or damp weather.

     Often clay pipes were built within the walls to heat them also as the heat and smoke vented out.
     There was most likely a floor/structure above this section and slaves would be in this basement tending this furnace.
     So perhaps this section was another small room of the schola?
     Here's a photo of the Schola remains OR the Rostra is in the background and the Temple of Saturn is too the right (not shown).

    Ok now look to the right of the Schola and walk-over (15m) to that corner of the Forum, as you see the street you are on makes a 90deg left and that street runs alongside the Forum Sq.
     That corner is empty except for some fragments and it's below groundlevel (hole).

    Ok so now we are standing in the SW corner of the Forum Sq.
    The Via Sacra comes-up from the other end of the Forum Sq. and runs between the Forum Sq. and the Basilica Julia then it hits the side of the Temple of Saturn.
     At this point the street 'T's, if you go LEFT that is the Vicus Jugarius which runs between the end of the Basilica Julia and the side of the Temple of Saturn and out of the Forum.
     If you go RIGHT that is the beginning of the Clivus Capitolinus which goes around the Temple of Saturn and up to the Capitoline Hill.

    The Triumphs (military victory parades) would come up the Via Sacra and turn right on the Clivus Capitolinus and up to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill.

     Now look at the Clivius Capitolinus you just walked over and this is what you'll see OR
     The Schola is off to the right (not shown) and the Temple of Saturn is above the photo (not shown).

     Whatever was in this hole is now gone but we'll get to that later.  But look below the street level and you see a small arch structure followed by a wall section followed by 2 more small arch structures -^-^^.

     That 1st arch is a just modern reconstruction using some fragments from the Arch of Tiberius that was located here.

     The brick space to the right has a small marble plaque saying 'Arco di Tibero'.

     And to the right of that are 2 arch structures. These 2 arch structures are 2 of the original 8 arch structures.

    The 1st one was where the modern reconstruction is, the 2nd was where the brick space with the plaque is and then to the right of the 2 original ones are 4 more (these arches are excellent examples of opus reticulatum).

     These small arches make a small viaduct for the street above.

    When the Temple of Saturn was rebuilt larger in 42BC that street was farther back and had to be moved ~2m closer to the Forum Sq.
    So rather than wall and then fill this space with dirt they built this viaduct and put the street on top of it (the brick wall there today is modern).

     When the arch section (out of view) to the right was 1st discovered in the 19C they wrongly thought it was Julius Caesar's Rostra that had been built-over when Augustus' Rostra was built.

     Now the 2 missing original arches (where the reconstructioned arch and wall with the plaque are) were demolished or built-over when the Arch of Tiberius was built in the area in front them.

     But 1st there *might* have been something else here before the Arch of Tiberius?

    It's possible that this was the location of the 'LACUS SERVILIUS'.
     Lacus in this case would be a small pool (lacus=lake) of water like the Lacus Curtius in the Forum (behind you in the Forum between the 3rd and 4th (of 7) large brick structures.

     Both these areas never really drained even after the Forum was canalled.
     Likely there were springs where the water surfaced, either way they were very small and this one probably had a circular well structure build around it like the Lacus Curtius.

     This lacus was traditionally named after 'Servilius Tullius' the 6th King of Rome (578BC).
      So it's very old if the tradition is true and later when Rome got water supplied by aqueducts it was very likely made into an aboveground ornamental fountain.

    From ancient writings it's a guess that this is the location: (1) It could be seen when entering the Forum from the Vicus Jugarius.
    (2) It was at the beginning of the Vicus Jugarius.
    The Vicus Jugarius is that fenced-off ancient street between the Basilica Julia on the left of you and the Temple of Saturn.

     It also could have been just across the street where the Vicus Jugarius 1st enters the Forum and 1 source further puts it down the Vicus alittle ways at the SW corner of the Basilica Julia.

     The Oxford Archaeological Guide puts it in this location but they also put the Arch of Tiberius in the wrong spot:).

     Well I've got to put it somewhere :) and I like this location for 3 reasons.

    1. It's a good hi-profile location to display heads.
    2. I could be wrong but this fountain seems to have disappeared from history after the Arch ofTiberius was built?
    3. The Oxford Guide puts it here. 

     This fountain is where the Dictator Sulla placed some of the heads of those whom he had ordered beheaded, mostly Senators.

     And if he had caught the young Julius Caesar, that is most likely where his head would have ended up.
     Sulla told Caesar to divorce his wife and marry another to form an alliance with him.
    Caesar refused and split town.
    So it was either for love or Caesar just didn't like to be ordered around, I like to think it was the former:).

     It's believed that this fountain was also used for displaying the heads of criminals even before Sulla's time.

    A fanciful model of the fountain, in the background the Basilica Julia(?).

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    Hi Walter

    Many thanks for this.
    Sooo I am going to print it out on bright orange paper. Fellow 'Fodors', if you see me in late November, early December be sure to stop me and we can compare 'notes'

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    Ok we have 3 possible locations for this arch in this corner of the Forum.

    (1) This is no proof that it spanned the Via Sacra, meaning 1 pier butted up to the Basilica Julia and the other was in this hole in front of the 1st 2 arches of the Viaduct (the reconstructed 1 using fragments of this Arch and the bricked 1 marked 'Arco di Tibero').
    That is where many like to put because these Arches always spanned streets.

    (2) It spanned the Vicus Jugarius between the Basilica Julia and the Temple of Saturn.
     This theory is because a latter relief on the Arch of Constantine shows a side view of the Rostra with the Temple of Saturn in the background with an arch spanning this street over to the Basilica Julia.
     There was an unnamed arch or gateway that spanned the Vicus but that is dated to the 4thC before this relief was made but it could have been an earlier arch.

     Or perhaps the sculptor just used 'artistic license' and turned the Tiberius Arch to fit in the relief.
    Remember it is just background the real scene is the Emperor on the Rostra.

     But the best evidence is the Plutei in the Curia, they are dated 100+yrs after the Arch of Tiberius was built and it only shows an empty space for the Vicus Jugarius.

    (3) This is the one we have proof of.
    In this hole there is a large unseen concrete foundation that goes from the edge of the Via Sacra over to the Schola Xantha.

     Also the Via Sacra was narrowed here (which you can plainly see), meaning once the Via Sacra was also partially over this hole section at your feet.
    That via section was removed so that the arch's pier could be squeezed into this area.

     This makes sense, the Schola was built during Tiberius reign and his Arch was built next to it.

     This Arch was more ornamental and only for pedestrian traffic. A few steps lead up to it from the Forum and I assume the otherside was level with the higher Clivius Capitolinus.

     Below is what the 19C archaeologists wrote after they excavated this section.
     "It stood at the NW corner of the Basilica Julia, not spanning the Sacra Via but just North of it.
    The street was made narrower at this point and the curb (between the street and Forum Sq.) bent toward the South to afford room for the arch.
    The concrete foundations 9m long by 6.3m wide have recently been found.
     This arch was single and was approached by steps from the level of the Forum.
     Its foundation blocked up 2 of the arches at the SW end of the Clivius Capitolinus, 2 of the pits (Pozzi Rituali?) in line of the street, and also the arched opening of a drain built of tufa block.
    Into this drain at this point ran 2 other drains at an acute angle and a block of tufa set in the floor of the archway served to regulate the flow of the currents (you can see a drain in this hole).
     Some architechural fragments of this arch and part of the inscription have been recovered."
     So except for some scattered fragments and its concrete foundation nothing is left.
     My *guess* is possibly after the Arch was scavenged for building materials perhaps the section between the concrete foundation and groundlevel of the arch used large stone blocks which were also scavenged?
    That would account for its almost complete disappearance?

     Also if my #2 is correct in that it actually shows some unnamed arch then we have no images of Tiberius' Arch which could have been anything from basic to very elaborate, probably the later.

     So now at this end of the Forum we have the Miliarium Aureum 'o', the Rostra '||||||', the Schola Xantha '==' and the Arch of Tiberius '||^||' and then the Via Sacra '#' and the Basilica Julia '[]' like this

     This model photo shows the Arch, Schola and the Rostra taken from the Basilica Julia.

    Ok, why a Triumphal Arch for Tiberius?
     Augustus had decreed that only the Emperor could have triumphal arch built because they were the real Leaders and the Generals were just following their orders and under their command.

     But in reality it was for General Germanicus' victory (~16AD) when he recovered the Legion Standards that were lost when Varus got his 3 Legions wiped-out in 9AD in the Teutoburg Forest.

    Germanicus is a war hero and *very popular* with the people and the army, and loyal to Emperor Tiberius.
     He is also Tiberius' nephew, adopted son and heir to the Throne plus Emperor Augustus was his great uncle and his wife's grandfather.
     But being popular and successor to the throne can sometimes be a bad combination. 

     Look down the Via Sacra and imagine;
    Germanicus is awarded a Triumph and rides in a chariot with his wife and 3 sons (think JFK, Jackie and kids in 1963), the Romans love this man and his family and are cheering wildly.

     2-3 years later Germanicus is dead, most Romans believed he was poisoned on Tiberius' orders but it's really unknown although the Roman Governor of Syria and Tiberius' confidant committed suicide when charged with Germanicus' murder.  

     12yrs later Germanicus' wife (Agrippina) and their 2 eldest sons are imprisoned, mother and 1 son on a small island and the other in Rome (possibly in Tiberius' Palace on the Palatine Hill), all are dead in a few years.

    But Tiberius feels Gemanicus' youngest son his grand-nephew is no real threat because of his young age and is allowed to live.
     Tiberius leaves Rome to live on Capri, later Germanicus' youngest son is ordered to live there with him also.
     Tiberius and his loyal followers watch him like a hawk for any sign of him wanting revenge. But he just 'parties on' (sex, sadism, wine and food) with no ill thoughts towards his grand-uncle or no inclinations to power...or so it seems!

    Tiberius dies in 37AD and Germanicus' youngest son becomes co-emperor with the younger Gemellus (Tiberius' grandson, who will be murdered shortly).

    And Germanicus' only surviving son's name was 'Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus' but he had a cute little childhood nickname that we all know him by 'Little Boots'...In Latin, Caligula!
    So who was TIBERIUS? (Born 42BC on the Palatine Hill; Died 37AD)
     Tiberius was unloved by everyone as Emperor, the people's chant upon his death was "Tiberius to the Tiber".
      Meaning throw his body into the river as they would a criminal, traitor or enemy.

     He was a really bad Emperor, later living as a recluse in his Capri palace the last 11yrs of his reign and never returned to Rome.

     If the ancient authors and rumors are true he was sadistic and quite a sexual deviant.

     Another reason Tiberius was so hated was the proscription of many Roman citizens while he was off to Capri and Sejanus was in complete control of Rome.
     Remember the 'Stairs of Mourning' behind the Arch of S. Severius they got *alot* of use under Sejanus.
    Sometimes as many as 20 executions a day, even women and children usually families of the condemned men (by Roman law virgins couldn't be executed, so they weren't when finally strangled and thrown down these Stairs).

     Tiberius' mother (Livia) was married and had 4yr old Tiberius when Octavian (who later became Emperor Augustus and is also married) ordered her to divorce her husband and marry him.

     Legend is, it was love at 1st sight for him but historians say it was a political marriage.

     But they were married and childless for 51yrs and he wanted a male heir desperately, so it's odd he never divorced her.
    So I'm going either with true Love or that Livia was a sexual vixen and knew his fetish:) (shown in HBO's Rome).

     Tiberius grew-up and was a good General and good public official in the different gov't offices he held.

     He was a Prince but not Augustus' 1st choice as far as taking over as Emperor which is just fine with Tiberius.

     But Fate with possibly his mother's underhanded dealings made him Emperor upon Augustus' death (14AD).  

     Tiberius is forced onto this path but he inherits a vast Empire!
    He gets all that for just one *little* sacrifice on his part which is forced upon him...he must leave his Love forever :(.

     History records him as an unloved, evil, vile, preverted Emperor.
    But what if he never had to give-up his Love in life?
    Did this event change him for the worst?

     ~35BC Augustus betroths his 7yr old stepson Tiberius to his best friend, heir and righthand man's (Marcus Agrippa) 1yr old daughter Vipsania.

     At 22 and 16 they are married.

     Eight yrs later Marcus Agrippa dies and Augustus needs an adult heir to the throne standing-by just in case.

     So adopting Tiberius and marrying him to his nymphomaniac daughter Julia who is also Marcus Agrippa's widow will do the trick.

     Plus Julia has always had the 'hots' for Tiberius.
    But Tiberius thinks she is a sl.. ahhh better to go with Suetonius' description :) "Tiberius disappoves of her character".

     Tiberius has a son and his wife is pregnant with their 2nd child. And he really truely loves his wife.  

     Augustus orders him to divorce his wife and marry the nymphomaniac Princess.
     Vipsania upon hearing Augustus' decree is so distraught she loses her baby.

     Tiberius must obey, he sadly divorces his true love and marrys Julia.

     But then one day Vipsania and Tiberius paths accidently cross!
     Suetonius wrote;
     "He followed her with an intense and tearful gaze"... "after that, care was taken to avoid their paths *ever* crossing again" :( .
     Remember he is now the Emperor's adopted son, heir to the Empire and married to the Emperor's daughter, he *can not ever* be seen crying over this lost love:( , that would be *very unmanly* and *very unRoman*.

     Just showing affection for your wife in public or even the rumor that you are affectionate in private was seen as a major weakness in a man.
     Pompey was often ridiculed as a "sex mad General" because he truely and passionately loved his wife Julia (Caesar's daughter), this was very scandalous behavior.

     And for a Roman wife. 'Lucretius' "A matron has no need of lascivious squirmings", so frigid, rigid with dignified immobility and anything above that could label you prostitute-like in your husband's eyes.

     Before we leave this area go back in time and imagine.
     Little 9yr old Tiberius is over on the Rostra delivering a eulogy for his birth father.   

    And around the time he hits puberty he coming up the Via Sacra riding the left lead horse on Augustus' chariot in a Triumph.

     Later as a man and adopted son of Augustus, Tiberius stops his chariot right here before the right turn onto the Clivus.

     He walks over to the Rostra and falls to his knees before Augustus who is presiding over the ceremonies.

     This is symbolic, a new born child is 1st brought to the father and laid at his feet.
     If it is a son and he accepts it as his and healthy, he picks it up.
    If not he walks away and the child is killed.

     If it's a girl he either walks away and it is killed or just says "feed her" and walks away and she is accepted.

    Now imagine Emperor Tiberius standing in the Forum admiring his newly built triumphal arch.

     He will never know or care that later during his reign one of his Roman Governors in a far-off province will crucify an unknown and insignificant religious rabble-rouser.

     But ~375yrs later all the Pagan Temples that now surround him will be gone, the buildings still intact but the statues of their Gods destroyed, their inscriptions erased and his religion outlawed.

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    hi, paradise lost,

    what a great help - wish we'd had this when we went to Rome 18 months aso - i found the forum a real puzzle.

    i recognise a lot of the names, mostly from reading and watching Robert Graves' I claudius - have you seen the BBC series? it was repeated here in the UK recently, and it was just as gory as I remembered from 20 years ago.

    booking marking for another trip to Rome,

    regards, ann

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      Ok now walk over to the fenced-off section between the side of the Temple of Saturn and the Basilica Julia.

     That is a street called the 'VICUS JUGARIUS' which in Roman times went from the Forum to the Porta Carmentalis (a gate in the Sevian Wall).
     This gate was just before the 'Temple of Portunus'.

     This street connected the Forum to the Forum Holitorium (vegetable market and indirectly to the Forum Boarium-cattle market) and the southern end of the Campus Martius

     In pre-Roman times this street (actually a dirt path for trade caravans) went from the Quirinal Hill (~1km north of you) right down to the Tiber River.

     Now the street we see today originally entered the Forum alittle more to the left but was moved over when the Basilica Julia was built.

     And on leaving the Forum it hugged the Capitoline Hill, they know this because in 192 BC there was a rock fall from the Capitoline Hill which killed several people walking on this street.

     In Republican and Imperial times there were high-end shops located on this street.
     They know of one from a man's sepulchral (tomb) inscription which listed his trade as a Purpurarius (a dealer in purple. I assume clothing, cloth, dyes? It was a royal color and very expensive).

     There was an arch on this street that was built against the Temple of Saturn and the Basilica Julia. Look just inside this modern fence for the concrete and brick arch remains (just the side piers) on the Temple and Basilica side.

     I also noticed by each end of the fence large stone blocks that could have been for an arch? But that is just a wild guess so stick with the 1st one which is documented.

     They don't know the name of this arch but it could be nothing more than just a decorative gateway.
     One source says that this concrete and brick arch can be no earlier than the C4 AD.

     Anyway it's not the Arch of Tiberius as some claim.
     Also they are excavating the ruins in that area and the plans are to open up that area for visitors sometime in the future (don't hold your breath).

     Ok let's start with the words VICUS & JUGARIUS.
    Both these words have many meanings and usages.

     'Vicus' most common meaning is 'village' which doesn't apply here in the city.
     In the city (Rome) it means a district or precinct but also the main street thru that district.
     Example: The Vicus Tuscus is where Etruscans once lived (Tuscus=Etruscans).
    (1) The fire burned-out everything in the Vicus Tuscus (district).
    (2) From the Roman Forum take the Vicus Tuscus (street) to the Circus Maximus.

    Also the sidestreets in the district would be called 'Semitae' and dead-ends or alleyways 'Angiporta'.

     Now for the word 'JUGARIUS' and this is going to be a 'what came 1st the chicken or the egg' :).

     We'll 1st go with this name coming from an ancient trade route that predates the founding of Rome by centuries.

     Thousands of years ago and ~750m from where you are standing there was a shallow crossing in the Tiber River just downstream of Tiber Island.
     During low water it could *possibly* be crossed on foot or horseback but the caravan's cargo would have to be ferried across (a raft poled across or pulled by ropes).
     The island caused this shallow and the shallow made this an important land trade route.

     And the river also gave access downstream to the sea trade routes plus inland trade routes arriving from upstream.

     This is a very major trade route junction and I wonder how the pre-Roman boys living on the hills (Palatine, Capitoline, Aventine) took advantage of this transportation hub right in their backyard?
     Did they charge Tolls, control the river crossing ferries or perhaps provided services (safe lodging, food, brothels, supplies, labor, protection etc)?
     Now along the Tiber was marshland and it often overflowed it's banks.
    So a trade route like the Via Salaria (salaria = salt so salt caravans) enters the future city of Rome from the Northeast and heads for this shallow crossing.
     Their route wants to stay on high ground as long as possible so they arrive at the Capitoline Hill's north-northeast corner and follow the base of the hill around to the otherside and beeline straight to the river crossing.

     So picture these ancient caravans travelling on a dirt road between the Curia and the Capitoline Hill, passing between the Hill and the Forum Sq. (which is a marsh), then right-by you and hugging the Hill for a bit more before turning-off and heading for the shallow river crossing (1st bridge is possibly built in 600BC).

     [Below I'm just using Jugarius and not all of its root word spellings]

    Now in that above pre-founding of Rome scenario 'Jugarius' could mean 'ridge' (also yoke or ox herd) as in the ridge road around the Capitoline Hill.

     So this could be the original meaning that was later lost and replaced by a new meaning after the founding of Rome?

     Now its other meanings could be to bind, connect, couple, yoke together or marry.

     In Julius Caesar's day and even centuries before they believed this street got its name from an altar at the base of the Capitoline Hill (possibly in a cave) along this street.

     This altar was dedicated to 'Juno Juga', Juno was a godess married to Jupiter and Juga in this case would be for marriage (joining, uniting, yoking together).

     Gods and Godesses had many specialties with temples and altars dedicated to each specific one.
     So in this case Juno is a marriage godess (esp the engagement phrase) and the street took its name from the 'Juga' meaning of her altar.
     Juno is an all-round 'chick goddess' which Roman women worship because she watches over them, their marriage and their children.
     June was named after Juno which is why even to this day it's a lucky and popular month to get married (June Bride).

     So if you're a couple and don't mind alittle Paganism make a sacrifice to Juno to protect your marriage or future marriage while you're standing at the beginning of her street.
     A peacock would be great as it is sacred to Juno but perhaps just tossing a coin over the fence and onto the Vicus Jugarius would be for the best :).

      Also I forgot to mention earlier but Cloacina (Shrine of Cloacina) is the protecter of sexual intercourse in marriage (guys keep that money sacrifice to a euro or less :) ).

    [This procession along the Vicus Jugarius is mentioned by ancient authors] 

     Ok, look down the Vicus Jugarius the time is 218-217 BC and a religious procession is coming up the street.

     Hannibal is marching on Rome from Spain which is bad enough but there are bad omens happening thru-out the country (showers of stones, blood flowing thru a city gate, lightning strikes, an extremely large child is born but neither male or female {locked in a chest & tossed into the sea}, wolf attack on a guard in Capua, etc).

     The Roman Pontiffs decide to gather up all the Virgins in Rome and within a 10 Milestone radius.
     Thrice nine (27) of the fairest maidens are chosen (no they don't get sacrificed) to lead this religious procession thru the city to appease the Gods.

     But while they are practicing their hymn in the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill the Temple of Juno on the Aventine Hill gets hit by lightning (very bad omen).

     Well obviously she's the most ticked-off of all the Gods & Godesses so she gets this parade in her honor now.

     25 of the 27 maidens give-up their dowries and the gold is melted down into a basin and given to Juno as a present.

     Later in her procession 2 sacrificial white heifers lead followed by the 27 maidens in long white robes singing a hymn written just for Juno.

     Up the Vicus Jugarius into the Forum where they halt.
    The maidens then all take hold of a cord as a symbol of common purpose and they start singing while beating time with their feet.

     "And men remembered long the sight of these fair maidens".

     Really??? 27 of the hottest virgins in Rome in a singing and stomping frenzy with white robes flowing in the breeze and guys actually remembered this event even years later...amazing :).

    [You've noticed I've gotten into alot of sex stuff :) in these sections with alittle love thrown in when I can.
    I'm just trying to add a human element to these sites esp if there is *nothing* left to see.
    And the 3 things that can make a ancient site interesting are Sex, Love and Murder. :) ]

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      Ok still standing in this corner of the Forum with your back to the Temple of Saturn look down the Via Sacra.
     On the leftside is the fenced-off Forum Sq. and on the rightside is the fenced-off Basilica Julia.

     I'm going to do the Basilica now but in the next section as you walk down the Via Sacra you will be hitting sites on the Forum Sq. side, sites on the Basilica side and some on the Via itself.
     The reason is the Basilica is 100m long so it's easier too see them as you walk along the Via Sacra doing the Forum Sq. sites.

     The original BASILICA JULIA was built by Julius Caesar but still unfinished at the time of his assassination.

     But let's start at the beginning and look at this football field size area we see today.

     In Romulus' day this area was just a useless diseased marshland. But after the Forum area is canaled this land is reclaimed, legend is that during the 5th King of Rome's reign Tarquinius Priscus (616-579BC) the 1st shops are built on this side of the Forum.

     These shops are called Tabernae and the ones on this side of the Forum are called 'Tabernae Veteres', meaning shops on the shady-side of the Forum and the shops on the otherside of the Forum 'Tabernae Novae' or sunny-side.

    These are just wooden stalls probably ramshackle-like where the basics are sold, butchers with meats, farmers with produce, wine sellers and I assume craftsmen with pots & pans, iron goods, etc.
    I assume alot of business was done by barter in this early marketplace.

     And behind these shops are private homes, in the beginning probably just simple huts of some of these shop owners but later and for centuries after the homes of the rich and powerful.

     They have excavated (1960's) and found the atrium of one of these large aristocratic houses beneath the Basilica Julia and also part of the 1st Basilica built-over this house (it's either at the eastern end/center, look for groundlevel skylights & entrance door or dead center in the basilica where a large hole of an excavation *once* was or both).

     The cool part is that they know whose house it was and he was a *major player* in ancient history.
    His tactics are still studied by the military Worldwide.

     His name was 'Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus' 236-183BC, better known as just Scipio Africanus.
     I believe in the movie Gladiator when the chariots attack Maximus and crew in the Colosseum that was supposed to be a re-enactment of a battle Scipio was in and lost during the 2nd Punic War against Carthage.
     After Maximus wins somone in the stands or Emperor's Box mentions "I thought we (Romans) lost that battle".

     Anyway Scipio was a member of one of Rome's 6 major Patrician families, a great Statesman and one of the greatest military commanders in history.
    He was the General who defeated Hannibal. Here's a Wikipedia bio on him

     One cool romantic story about him, was midway thru the Second Punic War (218-201BC) he goes on basically a suicide mission to Hispania (Spain).
     Hannibal's boys have conquered Spain which they will use as the beginning of an overland route to attack Italy via the Alps.  Scipio attacks Cartagena, Spain and wins the city.
    But he also wishes to win the 'hearts and minds' of the locals and be seen as liberators rather than conquerors like Carthage was. Plus he also needs supplies and reinforcements for his small outnumbered army.
    Scipio loves his wife and he grants her much more freedom and spending money than most Patrician husbands.
    But he does have a weakness for beautiful women and it's said for pretty boys.

     After the city is taken his men capture a very beautiful woman and they bring her to their commander as a prize of war.  Even Scipio is astonished by her beauty. But he learns that the woman is betrothed to a local Chieftain named Allucius.
    He returns her unharmed to her fiance along with the ransom money that was offered by her parents.
    They marry and Allucius allies himself and his tribe with Scipio.

    Throughout his career Scipio strongly believes in humanitarian conduct towards the conquered people and their lands also with prisoners and hostages.
     But in his army non-Roman deserters get beheaded and Roman deserters crucified.

    After the war Scipio returns to Rome and this house, the people love him but he has political enemies who hassle him and his General brother for years.

     His ghost is walking past you right now :). He used to leave this house and walk-up the Clivus Capitolinus to make daily sacrifices at the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. His enemies claimed this was just political PR too show he was a devout Pagan.

     In his later years he tires of the political attacks and retires to a villa far from the city he saved.

     After his death his son-in-law Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus has the house torn down and builts the Basilica Sempronia (his family name) on this site in 169BC.
     It's like a sister-basilica to the newly built (179BC) Basilica Aemilia on the otherside of the Forum.

     Nothing is known of its exact size or design but it still has shops in front facing the Forum Sq (Livy mentions butcher stalls and other shops there).

     Also Gracchus will have 2 famous sons who will fight for land reform and rights for the common people. In a few decades 1 of his sons will be in the Forum with his followers at a political rally.
     His 1st cousin who is also Scipio's (adopted?) grandson is on the opposing side and will lead an armed charge of Senators and others against him.
     Gracchus' son is clubbed to death with a stool leg and 100's of his followers killed.

     This basilica lasts for ~146yrs and probably needs replacement. So Julius Caesar with his war booty from the Gallic Wars decides to rebuild it in 54BC and rename it after his family's name Julia.
    He is still 5yrs away from crossing the Rubicon and taking absolute power so this is just political PR for him.

    I'm just *assuming* he builds it the same size as the original basilica possibly with the shops still in front?

    Augustus dedicates it in 46BC (2yrs after Caesar's death) still unfinished.
     It burns down during his reign (9BC?) and Augustus rebuilds it but larger (the size we see today) and dedicates it in 12AD.
     But this time he renames it after his dead grandsons Gaius and Lucius Caesar (remember their Portico in front of the Basilica Aemila), the name never catches on and everyone still calls it the Basilica Julia.

     It's originally used for banking and business but later in that century (1stAD) it's used for civil court cases (Tribunals).

     'Pliny the Younger' tried cases here including one that packed the place.
     His client was the daughter of an 80yr old man who married a very young woman and disinherited the daughter 10 days later.
    Pliny won his 'Anna Nicole Smith' case :).

      The Basilica burns down in the major 'Fire of Carinus' 283AD and again in 410AD when the invading Visigoths torched it and it's last rebuilt in 416AD.
     In 476AD Rome's last Emperor abdicates, the Fall of the Roman Empire is now official.

     In the 7th or 8th a church is built in the SW section of the Basilica.

     In the Middle-Ages the Basilica is used for a Cannaparia (rope-walk) where rope is made, they need a long bldg protected from the weather.

     Stone cutters and lime kilns set-up shop inside and start stripping the bldg of it's marble.

     In 1496 the travertine is taken to be used in the Girand Torlonia Palace.
     More salvage excavations in 1500 & 1511/2.
    1742 the eastern end is excavated and a cartload of the marble pavement is sold to a stone cutter.
     1780 more pavement and architectural pieces sold.

    Also at one time the Basilica area is used as a cemetery for a hospital (I'm assuming ~ the Renaissance with the higher groundlevel in the Forum).

     1848-1872 the Basilica is excavated by archaeologists.
    But they destroy the remains of the vaulted concrete ceiling with stucco molding (from a later rebuilding), I assume it had fallen in pieces and was lying on the ground...but still!

     To picture this basilica imagine a row of arcade arches surrounding this large (101X49m) rectangle, then 7.5m inside another row of arches and again in 7.5m another row of arches.  
     Now put a roof over them and build 3 more sets of arches on top of them and roof them also.
      So you have 2 corridors on 2 floors that go all around the bldg.
    In the center is an open courtyard 82X16m with no roof.

    So now on top of the 2nd floor wall-in this 82x16m opening with wooden walls, add *large* windows and then roof it over in wood.
    The distance across the roof is too great for single beams of heavy stone and not practical for a heavy bulky concrete vaulted ceiling.
    Large wooden beams like on the Curia's roof are the way too go, this roof is just to stop the rain with wall windows to light this interior area which is the heart of this basilica.

    Now look down the Via Sacra and notice the steps leading up to the basilica.
     At this end there is only 1 step but notice there are more steps as the distance grows which ends with 7 steps at the far end.
    That is because the ground slopes downhill along the Via.

     At the top of these steps 3 more steps lead into the actual bldg thru the 1st set of arches or arcade.
     This 1st arcade/corridor is more like a portico for the front of this bldg.

     Then 2 steps lead into the 2nd arcade/corridor and beyond that the large open central area (like an indoor courtyard).

     The front, rear and sides of Augustus' original basilica were of solid marble with the inner arcade arches using travertine faced-in marble.
     Now after the 283AD fire and rebuilding they will use concrete faced-in brick.
     And going by that interior stucco molding found and destroyed in the 19thC, I think it is safe to assume that all the bricks in this rebuilding were faced-in white stucco to give the impression of marble (like the Curia facade after the 283 rebuilding).

     But perhaps like the Curia the lower level was faced-in marble to make it look like real marble blocks at eye level?

     I don't know if any of the outside original Augustus' marble blocks (front & 2 sides) survived the fire.
    But perhaps they did? Two statements by the 19thC archaeologists who 1st excavated the basilica.
    "some of the brick pillars and arches of the outer aisles belonging to the restoration of Diocletian, together with some fragments of the marble pillars of the outside".
    This is in the SW corner saved by the church. So there were *marble* pillars still on the outside wall after the 283 rebuilding?

    "The amount and magnificence of the marble used in this basilica marked it as the special prey of the vandals of the middle ages, and a lime kiln was found on its very pavement".
    If everything was later brick-faced concrete then just faced with thin marble slabs it wouldn't have been that big of a deal for the reuse of the large marble blocks (vandals) and for the lime kiln?

    Now look into that SW corner and you will see the brick-faced concrete arches still intact from the 283 rebuilding.
     Also I assume that those still standing arches only survived because of the 7/8thC church that was built there, they probably used the arches as a foundation for the church.

     Now notice the large lone brick wall section closest to you, the one I pointed-out earlier as part of the unknown arch that spanned the Vicus Jugarius.
     If you look on the side of it that faces the basilica you'll notice it is thicker than the other walls, that is because it was reinforced and was actually part of this arch and the basilica.

     The rear of the basilica wasn't open like the front but instead had a line of 2-storied Tabernae (stair remains were found, SE corner) opening into the basilica.
    But often it's claimed they opened out into the street but excavation plans show them opening into the basilica and closed on the street side.

    Very likely there was another row of (commercial) shops behind them that opened into the street (proof later).

     These earlier Basilica shops very likely were for bankers and moneychangers but later when it became a courthouse they think these were for court related offices with a few bankers/money changers.

     The floor in the courtyard was colored marble (Numidian Yellow, Phrygian Purple, Lucullan Black) and the 2 surrounding corridors were white marble.
     This floor is slightly sloped and tilted to allow any water to run-off to the NE corner, this was noticed by an archaeologist during the 1878 flood of this area.

     A Middle Age 'lime kiln' was found on the floor when it was excavated, marble is burned which makes lime.

     The many short brick piers you see on the floor are just 19C recreations to show where the original arcade piers were located. But any fragments placed on top of them are original.

     We'll pass on the basilica early career as a boring business center and straight to it's use as civil courtrooms (Judge Wapner and Judge Judy are more entertaining:) ).
    Now before this trials/tribunals were held outside in and around the Forum.

     This courtyard using 3 large curtains (some say large wooden partitions) could be divided up into 4, 3 or 2 seperate courtrooms, if it was a really big hi-profile case 1 courtroom (like that Pliny trial).

    The spectators would be in that 2nd corridor with low marble balustrades (fences) between the arches too keep them back and also on the 2nd floor watching the proceedings.
     Also men on 1 side and woman on the other.

     These trials were a thrilling spectator sport, where anything went. Private citizens brought the charges against another often for revenge, power, money or for the accused political position. Outright lying, bribery, buying witnesses, spreading rumors, etc was all par for the course.  Cicero (not here though) once hired a woman and her young children and made them pityful looking and told the court that if his client was convicted what would happen to his poor wife and children, he wasn't married:).

     But once Cicero definitely was going to win his prosecution of Clodius but a couple of days before the verdict an unknown slave visited the juror/judges at their homes. And with offers of money, sex with beautiful women or young upper-class boys (that class was forbidden fruit)...Clodius was aquitted.

     The Romans had the same word for both a prosecutor of these cases and a person on the stage...'actor'.
     It wasn't so much a lawyer by today's standards that did these cases but an orator whose powerful and witty words often won these cases like a popularity contest (OJ?).

    A Roman orator named Vibius Crispus has a statue in this courtroom put there by Emperor Domition (81-96AD).
    Crispus was a favorite and yes-man to the Emperor, which is a wise thing to be with someone like Domitian.
     He was very rich and influencial and a great orator and would take the side most favorable to the State while under Domitian.
    He is also a delatore (political informer) but that's par for the course. He once prosecuted another delatore who ratted him out to Nero.

     It was called the Centumviral Court and there were 180 judges total. They didn't all have to present and would divide up among the 2,3,4 courtrooms. But for a big case they might all show-up.
    And Emperor Trajan presided over this court a few times.
    The judges sat on benches with the orator/lawyers before them on each side.

     Also a slave's testimony in any trial about anything was never truely valid unless it was also taken under torture :(.

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    [Correction; Earlier I said that the Basilica Julia was dedicated in 46BC by Emperor Augustus, actually it was dedicated by Julius Caesar. Also remember I am calling these Forum Sq. sections of street the Via Sacra although it isn't really (st. name unknown) but I have too call it something:) ]

     Ok we are still at the end of the Via Sacra with the Temple of Saturn just behind us, Vicus Jugarius on the right and the Rostra ~25m to the left.
     What we are going to cover is the front of the Basilica Julia, the Via Sacra and the 7 large brick column bases (last 2 have columns on them).

     This covers ~100m but we will only walk as far as between the 3rd & 4th column base. Because there is a small fenced-in area between them that allows you to enter a short distance in the Forum Sq. and that will be another section.

    NOW before you move look down the Via Sacra and just after the 2nd column base (just called 'base' from now on) to just after the 3rd base right in the middle of the Via is a long retangular section marked-off with bricks with just dirt inside and not paving stones.
     Between you and that rectangle is a line of 5 'Pozzi Rituali' pits, like we seen earlier. Remember it's just usually 4 paving stones that form a square dirt center.

     The 1st one closest to you will have a small modern stone block with a metal pin in it (placed there after an earlier excavation, I assume), the 2nd pit is not there just an empty space but the next 4 going to the rectangle are very easy to see.
     I've read that these were put in by Julius Caesar when he built the Basilica Julia.
     So just keep them in mind as we do this short walk down the Via.

     OK, the main sites on the Basilica Julia side are the 'Tabulae Lusoriae' these are 'Game Boards' etched into the stone, I've already pointed-out a few on this walk.
     Here they are mainly on the steps of the Basilica.

     OK NOW start walking down the rightside of the Via Sacra, in the 1st 10m of the Basilica you will see a fairly famous and mysterious circle game on the Basilica's step (The Basilica is fenced-off with a thigh-high rail fence, just walk along it looking down to where the steps start). and here also (the link on this site doesn't show this exact location just a photo of the steps).

    Ok ancient Romans loved to gamble on everything but it is illegal except during the few days in December during Saturnalia.  I assume they legally played these games using game pieces and at the end the loser pays the winner. In the US in blue-collar bars and social clubs in my younger days I have gambled. The police would occassionally check on the bars and clubs and as long as there was no money in view (card tables or on pool tables) it was ok as no laws were being broken at that moment :).

     Now the men playing these outdoor games are the Plebeian 'Bread and Circus' crowd. They are 2nd Class Roman citizens given free food, free entertainment and free public baths (if not free *very* cheap).
    The Patricians are the elite rich aristocracy Romans who know they must keep this majority content with this Welfare/Dole system or they will have an angry Mob to content with.

     Now these Plebeians have alot of spare time on their hands but they live in crowded hot-to-cold, smelly, dark, firetrap apartment houses called Insulae.
     So during the day they want to be out in the sunny open air in places like the Games, Forums, public parks, etc and just idle their time away.

     And if there were no chariot races at the Circus or violent entertainment at an amphitheater some would also hang-out here at the Basilica and listen to any trials going-on, if not they could play these board games passing their time petty gambling.

     With 80 etched games found here (there surely was many more now lost) this seemed to be *the* place to play perhaps being on the shady-side of the Forum had something to do with that?

     1st off nothing was pitched or tossed onto these board games as the tour guides in the Forum usually claim, they were played with game pieces by seated players on the steps.

     There are 3 types of game boards, Hole boards, Circle/Round boards and rare chessboard-type boards (I'll point out one of these later).  

    What I call 'HOLE GAMES' are usually (but sometimes scattered) 2 even rows of 4 holes [ :::: ] bored fairly deep into the stone's step or pavement and the most popular.
    They look like this but usually the holes are deeper OR (if url is dead try)

     My guess is they were a version of these games but with less holes?

    This is from East Africa c.1850; "Children usually prefer the game called indifferently Togantog and Saddikiya.
    A double line of five or six holes is made in the ground, four counters are placed in each, and when in the course of play four men meet in the same hole, one of the adversary's is removed. It resembles the Bornou game, played with beans and holes in the sand".

     From another website; "the Bedouins still (i.e. today) play this game in the sand with pebbles".

     But as you will read below it was played widely except with 5-6 sets of holes vs 4 Roman sets.

    Info and pictures of this game

     The 2nd most popular and with a cooler design are what I call 'CIRCLE GAMES' others call 'Round'.

     They usually look like a pizza cut-up into eighths. OR

     No one knows definitely how they were played but it seems likely it was a sort of tic-tac-toe type of game.

     This website shows it was possibly a round version of the '3 mens Morris' game because if you made that square game into a circle you would have the same 8 positions around the edge and 1 in the center?

     IMO It would be a very easy and boring game unless there were also plays to be made around the edge of the circle?
    Like; 3 in a row or boxing-in or jumping your opponent and winning the center position?
    I have written a trip report on the locations of these games all around the Roman Forum but back then I went along with the pitching or tossing onto these game boards so disregard that info


    Notice the graffito etched within the circle which spells ORACVLO, this is the only circle game where I have ever seen a word within it.

    ORACVLO is the Latin word for ORACLE.

     You can see this word on this bronze medallion from Emperor 'Philip the Arab' reign (244-249AD).
     On the front Philip, wife and son with the words 'CONCORDIA AVGVSTORVM' (Harmony in the Imperial Family) and on the flipside ET ORACVLO APOLLINIS (And Oracle Apollo)

     Now the graffito is odd enough but also notice the unusual 'A' in the photos, it's a bit hard to see but you can make it out.
      It's like today's and the ancient Roman A, except here /\ there is no horizontal connecting line '-' instead in its place there is a small 'v'.

     There is also a pot or bowl shard in the Roman Forum Museum (Room 4-center case) from the 'Pozzo Repubblicano A' era, that has this same odd 'A' on it and reads ANI.

     From memory and the official Italian Roman Forum guidebook which says of this Room 4 center case which is labeled 'Pozzo Repubblicano A'.
     "...material from the Via Sacra and Republican wells".
    'Pozzo' is Well (water?) or do they mean 'Pozzi Rituali' for those 'Wells' when esp referring to the Via Sacra where Pozzi Rituali pits have been excavated and bowl shards (believed to have been used in auguries {fortune-telling} by the Priests to examine an animal's organs, like bird's entrails, etc?) have been found?

     Or just plain water wells pre-aqueduct supplied water (there are a few well-like structures within the remains of the Domus Publica and other areas. Although I wonder if some/all of these might be Medieval or later?) or maybe their were ancient public water wells *alongside* the Via Sacra?

     I assume this odd 'A' on this bowl/pot shard from the 'Reppubbicano A' is from the earliest Republican Era (post 509BC, Reppubbicano B would be a later era)?

      Also I have never seen that type of 'A' on any inscriptions or in any other museums.
    And the stele below the Lapis Niger has only standard 'A's on it, although the horizontal '-' connecting line is at a bit of an angle (this stele is written in the earliest form of Latin).

     Now this A seems to be archaic and if that pot/bowl shard *is* from an augury perhaps it's a ritualistic lettering?
     And maybe its use many centuries later in the word for Oracle would make the word more mystical and ancient?
    Like we still do today for movie titles, book covers, Ye Ole English Pub, etc.

    [I'm intrigued by this game board and FWIW here's another one of my off-the-wall theories:) ]

     Now why put a graffito in a game board or a game board over a graffito, they *must* be connected somehow?

    There are 100's of meters of steps to place one or the other, so why both together?

     Also a graffitist wants his message to be seen & read and would have placed his message parallel to the steps === ( -- ) === to be read by passers-by on the Via and people going into the Basilica rather than vertical & tilted with the letters sideways? === ( \ ) ===

     These circle games had 2 players and 9 positions for the game pieces (8 around the edge and 1 in the center).
    The vast majority/all of these games are like a pizza cut into eighths.

     This gameboard however doesn't have the intersecting lines etched thru it but if you look close you will see small lines ( ~1 inch) at 4 of the 8 points of the circle where those lines would have intersected the etched circle.

     Now this game seems to have its 8 positions in the circle and although unmarked the center would still be the 9th position.

     So no reason this game couldn't be played like the others it seems?

    No one knows the rules for certain but it's believed to be some form of 3-in-a-row type game like tic-tac-toe?
     If so something would have had to also go on in the outer circle like jumping or boxing-in your opponent and taking his game piece (replaceable?), if not it's a very easy & boring game:).

     Now the odd direction === ( \ ) === of the word ORACVLO on the steps could only be properly viewed by the player sitting on the rightside of the game board ( \ ) *.
    And that side is easiest for a righthanded person to play, so probably 1st choice to sit (possibly the winner's position?).

     We'll never know but I wonder could this be someone's personal addition to this type of game?

     Like a side bet, each win buys a letter with one of your extra game pieces, 1st to spell oracvlo wins the pot?

     A different way or rules to play this *particular* gameboard where guessing or predicting (oracle) the moves was involved (also no intersecting lines)?

     A player's nickname? Perhaps so good and always winning they called him the Oracle :).

     Just an aimless doodle?

     A religious statement from a closeted (late 4th-early 5th C) Pagan (ask the Oracle vs that Christian God) ?

     Or was this just some ancient crazy person's personal Oracle where he/she would cast bones or peer into the circle and shout predictions to the passers-by... "The End Is Near Romans" :).


     I noticed this ~6yrs ago, roughly in the center of this circle there is a small (size of a small orange seed) piece of metal fused into the step.

     I wet my finger to shine it up and my 1st thought was brass, later possibly copper or bronze (IIRC it did have a slight green tarnish like brass gets).

     At that time I had read that later in the Empire small thin metal tokens were used in these board games instead of round marked bone chips, colored stones or small colored glass tokens.

     I *closely* searched all of the exposed steps of the Basilica Julia (on this trip & others) and haven't found any other small pieces of fused metal on them.

     I was intrigued that *only* within this small round game board a piece of fused metal was found in 100's of meter's of steps!

    And according to this site ~350AD and later small thin brass commemorative unofficial tokens were produced.
     "Whatever their original purpose, it would seem that in practice the contorniates may have ended up being used as 'men' for a board game played on the Tabulae Lusoriae, such as those which now decorate the floor of the Basilica Julia in the Forum Romanum, palm and 'barred P' symbols commonly being incised on the flans presumable so as to differentiate the tokens".

     If? this fused metal is the remains of a Contorniate, how did it get fused into the step and why?

     And why would this Contorniate (and possibly others that didn't fuse) be left behind by the player?

     It had to be something that *suddenly* happened as no one walking by picked-up these unattended tokens in the *very crowded* Roman Forum?

    Also it's not likely the Forum suddenly just burst into flames and the player and everyone else ran for their lives:)

     Now a fire could easily fuse just a *single* thin brass token into the Basilica's step.
    Because like in the Basilica Amelia's 410AD fire not all the coins fused into the pavement, the vast majority of coins were intact and I believe found during a Renaissance excavation/looting.
     This IMO is because it needs a small space between a piece of flaming fallen debris and the metal coin/token, add oxygen being sucked into the fire from groundlevel and you have a blast furnace effect.
    Flaming debris like a large wooden roof beam falling *flat* onto a coin/token and step would not be burning on the bottom.

     Now we need a fire in the Basilica Julia after these tokens are 1st produced, so post-350AD.
    And that one I believe could only be Alaric's Visigoth 410 sacking and burning of Rome where the Basilca Julia was put to the torch.


      It's August 24, 410AD after months of seige someone opens the Gate and the Visigoths suddenly storm into Rome.

     Their first logicial shopping stop:) would be the Roman Forum, Imperial Forums, Palatine & Capitoline Hills and surrounding area for the money and valuables.
     Now if they were bee-lining from that Gate (~NE of the Forum) they would have 1st entered the Roman Forum from the Curia-Basilica Aemila area.

     So if some poor staving Roman on the otherside of the Forum was just idling his time away playing this gameboard, he would suddenly hear shouts and screaming from his fellow citizens as they were running into the Forum just ahead of this invading horde.

     Around this time he would have to make a very quick decision;  Do I pick-up my basically worthless brass Contorniates or do I run for my #@%! life:)?

     Assuming the latter:) these worthless tokens would lay there for 3 days untouched, as everyone now is very busy playing either sacker or sackee:).

     Likely on the 3rd day just before the Visigoths leave, the Basilica Julia is torched.

    And did flaming debris fall down upon this game board and token???

    THE LOCATION of this small piece of fused metal can be seen as dense cluster of marks in these 2 photos;   It is roughly in the exact center of the photo (not the circle).

     If you run a line from between the O and the R on the *same angle* that they tilted on \ you have very few marks/pits in the marble until you hit a cluster.

     The same goes for this photo clear sailing from the O & R on that same angle \ until the cluster.

     Also remember earlier I mentioned those ~1inch lines *inside* the circle on the etched circle that seem to divide it into eighths.
     In that photo you can see one below the 'A' (3 o'clock) and another to the left on the edge of the photo (4:30).

     In that other photo (remember it's taken at an angle) you can see the 3:00 & 4:30 plus 6:00 & 7:30. 9:00 o'clock is maybe a faded possibility there or not there at all and I think 10:30 can be see just before the green grass covers the circle.

     I do see some other shorter lines and a couple on the outer side of the circle.
      I don't know if they are just marks or what but the 3, 4:30, 6 & 7:30 seem spaced about right and in the right positions when looking at this game head-on.

      Often you will see Roman Forum tour guides standing in front of *this* game board explaining it.   And at one point they usually pick-up a small stone and toss it on the game board:).
     But this photo (location unknown) shows deep holes in the locations where the game pieces would have been placed by hand.
     I assume it's a earlier game board (before contorniates) where perhaps colored stones, bone/glass/etc game pieces were used?

     This photo from the Basilica Julia shows just shallow etched circles for the the game pieces, perhaps for the contorniates?

     But most games didn't bother, no need too I assume, just place your contorniate where the lines intersect?

    This photo from Jerusalem shows a small square board (called 9 Men's Morris which was definitely played with game pieces and right next to it a small faded Round/Circle gameboard.

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    Thank you Walter. I just happened on this thread today. What a tremendous amount of work you've done to put this together. I can't wait to read every word, and print it to take to Rome on my May vacation. It will make my visit to the Forum so much more interesting.

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    Paradise: All I can say is WOW! I am going to Rome in May and I have been praying to find something like this that would bring the forum alive for me. You are the answer to my prayer. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this. Thank you J

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     Ok, we are still in front of the Basilica Julia at the ORACVLO circle game but facing the Forum Sq.

     Now in front of you running left-to-right (west-to-east) are 7 *large* brick bases which we will number left-to-right 1-7, only 6 & 7 actually have a column atop them.

     These 7 brick bases once all supported columns with honorary statues on top.

     Who these statues honored is unknown as the dedicatory inscriptions are long gone and nothing written about them survives.

     These bases date to the early 300's AD but oddly inside some of them they are built around a core of opus quadratum (interlocking stone blocks or bricks).
     This opus quadratum core suggests that there were very likely smaller honorific columns here before ~300AD.
     Because the larger bases we see today are concrete that were faced in brick.
     It would seem(?) that there would be no need/reason (time & expense) to make the very inner central core of interlocking stone blocks(?) only to be covered-over by a larger concrete base?

     The bases we see today date to ~303AD but possibly later. Emperor Diocletian (284-305AD) in ~303AD if you remember rebuilt the Curia after the 283AD fire and also put 5 honorific columns on or behind the Rostra.

     Now lying near Bases 1-3 there are column sections of Rose-pink Aswan granite, this is the same granite that was used for those 5 Rostra columns (but in my notes I have Bases 1-4 with column sections but Bases 3 & 4 have the rose-pink granite column sections, so basically eyeball Bases 1-4 for those rose-pink column sections).

     Now the brick-stamps used in the 7 bases are from the end of Diocletian's reign.
     But these same stamped bricks are also found in bldgs of Emperor Maxentius (306-12) and early in Emperor Constantine's reign (313-33), so there must have been a surplus of these earlier stamped bricks?

     The Oxford Arch Guide suggests it was more likely one of the two later Emperors rather than Diocletian who built these 7 Honorific columns.

     Now look just past the 7th column, there is a small brick bldg.
    That is the remains of another Rostra built in this timeframe.

     What we now have if you enter the Forum from the Argiletum (street between the Curia and Basilica Aemila) is a boxed-in Forum Sq. with 7 honorific columns fronting the Basilica Julia.

    The Argiletum is becoming the major picturesque entrance to the Forum and upon entering you have the Forum Sq. with a Rostra at each end and 7 tall honorific columns in front of the beautiful Basilica Julia.

     So the 1st view of the Forum Sq. for anyone entering from that street is like that of a forecourt for the entire Roman Forum.

    Now these bases were brick-faced concrete and the bricks were then marble faced so that the bases looked like solid marble.

     The marble slabs, inscriptions and also some of the Peperino stone used in the core were later taken by stone scavengers.
     I'm *assuming* the Peperino stone were the cut stone blocks of 'opus quadratum' in the center?
     Notice the half destroyed bases with no centers at Bases 3 & 5 and a bit of #4.

     The last 2 Bases (6&7) with the columns on them were erected in the 19thC just for show.

     The last column #7 (gray granite) likely doesn't belong here, it was found farther east and has holes in it for metal attachments, possibly for rostra (ship's metal ramming beaks).
    If so it would be a 'Columna Rostrata' commemorating some naval victory (metal pins that attached these beaks(?) are still embedded in the column).

     And the #6 column (a phrygian purple shaft) is original except it is on the wrong base and should be on #7.

     These bases also had molded plinths around the bottom and molded cornices around the top of the Base.

    OK NOW WALK-OVER to between Base 1 & 2, the short fence ____ along the Via Sacra will stop you there.

     Look in-between these 2 Bases _[x]_+_[x]_ and you will see a small square hole + ( ~1ftx1ft+ ) with a roundish stone fragment partially blocking the hole.
    This stone was very likely placed there recently (decades) to keep anyone from accidently stepping into this small hole.

     You can see a stone molding all around this square hole and the inner side of the molding is recessed.
    So you have a sunken inner ridge within this square stone molding which would perfectly fit a stone or metal plate that when placed inside covering the hole would be flush with the stone outer molding and also the Forum pavement.
     Is this an intact Pozzi Rituali minus the covering plate???
     An ancient someone went to alot of work to put this molded square hole into the Forum pavement, so what else could it be?  

     Mentally transport yourself to atop the Rostra.
    Now looking 45deg to the left towards the modern custodian shack, remember where the 1st line of Pozzi Rituali was, and then the line of Pozzi Rituali from the Julius Caesar Rostra (just behind you) that connected to them \____

    And then later Augustus put in his line of Pozzi Rituali right in front of the Rostra \......

     And now we have a row of Pozzi Rituali on the Via Sacra in front of the Basilica Julia \...... |*| to the far right of the Rostra.

    Could there have been a row of Pozzi Rituali from the Rostra Pozzi connecting the Via Sacra Pozzi rather like we have on the leftside \....../|*| ?   And this is one of them?
    Bottomline; Julius Caesar tied his Pozzi into the original Comitium Pozzi in a long straight line and Augustus tied his into those right in front of the Rostra \----

     So there is a pattern it seems and this one does line up pretty well with Augustus' and the Via Sacra Pozzi?

     Now walk over to in-between Bases 2 & 3, in the middle of them ~2m from the fence is a Circle Game etched onto the Forum pavement.

    [Hopefully my simple diagrams will come out above and not be turned into :) and :( type icons]

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    OK NOW, turn around and walk back over the Via Sacra to the Basilica Julia.
     Ya can't miss the main middle entrance it has a tall column-like structure, 2 statue bases and the reconstructed steps show how they originally looked (this is across the Via Sacra from the Brick Column Bases #3 & #4).
     The column-like structure is a pilaster adorned with a Doric half-column.
     It has been reconstructed (with original 'bits and pieces' and also with modern additions to fill-in the gaps) with the intention of giving the visitor an idea of what the groundfloor facade once looked like.

     These ornament pilasters would be on both sides of the groundfloor entrance arches in the front and sides of the Basilica (remember the rear has shops and offices.

     Also we have 2 STATUE BASES here, 1 in front of the Pilaster and the other to the left of it.
    [Ok I'm pretty certain I have this right but will include other versions.]

     These 2 statue bases were inscribed for a man named 'Gabinius Vetius Praetestatus' who was 'Praefect of the City' (Urban Prefect) in 416AD (some versions put it a 377AD but it was very likely 416).

     The 2 statue bases (possibly 2nd/3rd C AD) were taken from another site and reinscribed. Paganism was outlawed ~23yrs earlier so there is no shortage of these type materials :).
     Also it's possible that this is not their original location but were found nearby and re-erected here but they were originally somewhere in this Basilica.
     I know one was found on the Vicus Jugarius side of the Basilica.

    And Gabinius wasn't shy about putting his name on these statue bases all around here, I believe 8 were found in the Forum alone :).

     The statue bases supported Pagan-era bronze statues taken from temples and civic bldgs and were used as ornamental decorations/art gallery all around the Forum.
    And being bronze none(?) have survived but were all melted down at some later point in history.

     OK let's go with the one on the right in front of the Pilaster. It's inscribed as seen here; OR

     Or roughly "Gabinius Vettius Probianus who is Urban Prefect has put up this statue to ornament the Basilica Julia which he has lately restored".
    Remember the Visigoths burned down this Basilica 6yrs earlier.

     Now on top of this base and the other one on the left is a very thin statue base (plinth).
     These plinths were the ones that originally held the bronze statues (also taken from another location) and are both inscribed.
     These plinths date to the 3rdC AD and were inscribed to the famous Greek sculptors of the Classicial Period Polyclitus and Timarchus.
     And if I recall you can see the inscriptions on one or both of these bases from where you are standing.

     Other inscribed plinths of the famous sculptors Praxiteles, Bryaxis and others have also been found in the Forum.

     I wonder were these famous masterpieces placed on public display in the Forum to show the people 'How great we *once* were' and perhaps to give them hope?
     It would have been too late though, Rome is too far into its decline, in 60yrs they will see their last Emperor desposed and will be ruled-over by Ostrogothic Kings.


    Ok now, still facing the Basilica look roughly 45deg to the left to the Palatine Hill.
     That corner is where Palace of Tiberius was which was inherited by that 'wild and crazy guy' Emperor Caligula.

     Now look roughly 45deg to the right at the Capitoline Hill, on that southern end of the Capitoline the 'Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus' (best & greatest) was built there.
     That was THE temple and that version of Jupiter was THE God of all the others in Rome.

     So of course with Caligula also being a God (he said so and anyone he asked also agreed with him, the threat of torture tends to produce alot of 'Yes Men') he conversed with Jupiter in this temple almost daily.
     Not by praying but by sitting on the statue's lap, whispering in the statue's ear and putting his own ear to the statue's mouth to hear Jupiter's response.
     And occasionally getting into a loud shouting match with the statue:).

     From the Palatine to the Temple he would have to pass thru the Forum daily crowded with those pesky Mortals.
     But if he had a bridge built (Pons Caligulae) he could just walk across this valley between the 2 hills!

     Suetonius mentions this bridge going from the Palace over to the 'Temple of Augustus' and then over to the 'Temple of Jupiter'.  What many historians think was that is was just a series of short wooden bridges that spanned this distance using the rooftops of buildings.

     The Temple of Augustus hasn't been found but they are pretty certain that it is behind the Basilica Julia under the modern section of bldgs and streets.

     So from probably from a lower section of the Palace to the Temple of Augustus' roof and next they believe over to the Basilica Julia's roof and my guess possibly over to the Temple of Saturn's roof and then over to the Capitoline Hill and who knows maybe right into the Temple of Jupiter itself?
     Now between the 2 Hills they would have to span 4 streets possibly using the 3 tallest bldgs (Augustus, Julia & Saturn) but with lower bldgs/structures (say like an arch) between them they could support a higher bridge from those structure's roof rather than building wooden supports all the way to groundlevel?
     So this bridge probably did alittle zig-zagging between the 2 Hills?

     The main reason I mention this bridge and Caligula is because of an event that took place for a few days right where you are standing.

     It likely took place sometime in the later half of Emperor Caligula's 4yr reign (37-41AD).

    Suetonius said; "He scattered large sums of money among the people from the roof of the Basilica Julia for several days in succession".

     Perhaps just on a whim on the 1st day he threw some gold coins off the roof and into the crowded Roman Forum?
    He found the common people scrambling around to retrieve these coins very amusing.

    Then he does the same thing the next day.
    So figure by the 3rd day the word is out and the Forum is jammed with people awaiting this money shower.
      And if it went on to a 4th, 5th, etc day it's going to be a *major* mob scene (criminals, riff-raff, commoners, slaves, shop owners, etc).

     Caligula is having a grand time now because it has gotten very violent.
     I've read (sorry can't find the reference) that on 1 of those days dozens of people were killed in the mayhem that ensued (perhaps some even murdered for the gold coins that they retrieved?).
     I remember it was ~30 men, ~12 women and 1 Eunch (him I remember for certain, men don't forget that visual:( ).

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    Ok you are still standing in front of the Basilica Julia between Brick Column Bases 3 & 4.
    In the middle of the street (Via) notice the long rectangular dirt space outlined in modern brick (in front of Brick Column Bases 3 & 2).

     This photo shows it in the lower right section. Note; this is an old photo which shows this rectangle with some depth but today it's dirt filled and flush with the street. OR

     This is ~100yr old photo which shows it excavated OR

     You can also see it in this
    Forum map; To the left of #43, #41 is the Basilica Julia. OR

    But before we get to this dirt rectangle I want to mention this. The Roman Forum Sq. was once used for the Games and Gladiator combats.
    In the beginning probably just a simple temporary fenced-off area with standing crowds around it with others on the roofs of the shops and later atop the basilicas.

     But in 318BC it's recorded that they build a wooden structure called a 'Maenianum'; "originally a projecting balcony which was erected round the Roman forum in order to give more accommodation to the spectators of the gladiatorial combats by the Censor C. Maenius 318BC."

    Although the 1st Gladiator combat in Rome was said to have taken place in 264BC? Perhaps it was originally used for other venues and then later for Gladiator combats?

     "Projecting balcony"; I'm thinking here standing room (not seats) on the ground plus standing room on this balcony?  I'm assuming that they also used the roofs of the shops that bordered the 2 sides of the Forum (Tabernae Nova & Veteres) and just projected a wooden platform off them held-up by wooden posts?
     Now when Julius Caesar comes to power he puts-in underground tunnels beneath the Forum Sq. with 12 openings with elevators for either the gladiators or wild beasts or both to pop-up from.

     By this time or possibly even earlier it seems this Forum Arena is now surrounded off & on by *temporary* wooden stands so the crowds can now be seated in a amphitheater setting.

     Julius Caesar has also placed (colorful IIRC) awnings over the Forum Sq., the Clivus Capitolinus and the lower section of the Via Sacra for shade.

     This diagram shows the tunnels and openings. OR

    Also one theory is that the 'Pozzi Rituali' I mention in front of the Basilica Julia aren't really pozzi rituali but are just ~2m deep post holes for these wooden stands or for the awning over the stands?
     Another theory was that pozzi rituali around the Forum was to set apart a sacred boundary for voting?

     But I think the theory that they were used in the sacrifice ritual of the animal's discarded remains and to possibly pour ritual libations (wine?) into makes more sense (pottery shards and small animal bones found in them dating to the Republic Era).

     During Augustus' reign he ends these Games in the Roman Forum and they move elsewhere.

    Ok now here's the *possible* tie-in with this rectangular trench and these tunnels?
     But I think 1st we should rule out what it isn't, at least IMO. It's not centered in front of the Basilica Julia's main center
    entrance, so probably not connected with the Basilica as something ornamental (fountain, altar, statue, etc).

     It's a big hole in the Via, if it was for an aboveground structure it would likely have a solid concrete foundation at and below groundlevel on which to build on.

     If it was an aboveground structure it would also block any type of wheeled traffic (triumphs, religious processions [Temple Jupiter->Circus Maximus], etc).

     Also what type of aboveground structure of this size would need a void beneath it and to what purpose?

     I don't know of any other examples of this type structure elsewhere?

     And later if built in Medieval times this structure would be higher than the surrounding Via pavement (Julius Caesar/Augustus Era) and doubtful to me as it looks like it was neatly built:).
     But a below ground structure here that could easily be covered-over when not it use would cause no problems.
     Now I asked about this site ~3.5yrs ago on s.h.a and got a response from Jona Lenderius
    [URL of that post ]

    Newsgroups: soc.history.ancient
    From: Jona <> Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 01:48:23
    +0200 Local: Thurs, Aug 19 2004 7:48 pm
    Subject: Re: Roman Forum Experts: Question About A Structure On The Via Sacra.
    "This is probably one of the entrances to the system of underground tunnels created in the days of Julius Caesar. Back then, the Forum was used for gladiatoral contests and these tunnels were used for sudden appearings by lions etc."
    [snip unrelated text]
    Jona Lenderius
    [End Quote]

    Go back to OR

    (my simplified diagram)


    Now look at the 1st vertical tunnel ]----|- Draw a line straight down to the Basilica Julia and then draw the Via in front of the Basilica.

     This long rectangular structure is left of that line with one end right on that line in the center of the Via.

    You can line this up if you are standing there and also if you have a map showing both locations.

     In person you can see that 1st opening right next to the Lacus Curtius shown on the website above (if you lean over the fence you can see that hole, the top of the tunnel's structure and the void of the tunnel).
     So this structure *could* be a long ramp, stairs or just a hole that has a 90* tunnel at its end which leads over to this tunnel complex as it lines up prefectly.
     And this long rectangular opening would be likely under (or outside) the temporary wooden stands set-up for these events, *possibly* an out of sight staging area for the lions, prisoners, gladiators, etc?).

     Now notice the long horizontal tunnel that goes left over to the Rostra.
     Remember Caesar built a narrow Rostra and these tunnels.
    Later Augustus extended this Rostra 10m out. *Perhaps* that was the original staging area in front of Caesar's Rostra which was very likely outside (or under?) the wooden amphitheater's boundary but that tunnel entrance and this open area was later covered-over by Augustus' Rostra?
    But we still have a big problem with this rectangular structure being part of this tunnel system. 
     There is no tunnel shown or mentioned that links this underground structure with the complex of tunnels beneath the Forum Square!

     A Guess???

     Augustus eventually ends these Forum Games and this tunnel system is abandoned?
    ~3 centuries later they build those large *heavy* 7 Honorific Columns on this side of the Forum Sq that we see today.

     Go back to that map URL and that line I asked you to draw.
    To the left of that line with one edge right on that line draw the large concrete/brickfaced base of the 3rd Honorific Column.
     These tunnels are 2m high & 1.5m wide and if there was a tunnel there it would be right under the east end of the 3rd base.
     And the top of these tunnels are maybe ~0.75m below the Forum pavement.

     Now no doubt when these (or possibly earlier) column bases were built the 1st thing was to rip-up the Forum pavements below, dig a hole and put in a concrete foundation to build on.

     But *if* you have a major void caused by an abandoned tunnel you would have to fill it in.
     Seal the ends of it somewhere between this point and before the 1st opening and also somewhere between this point and the Via Sacra.
     Then just throw-in any dirt & rubble lying around and fill it in with concrete.

     Of course this is all just a guess hinging on what, if anything was ever found below ground at the eastern end of that rectangular structure? (No opening=No tunnel)
     Also Mr. Lenderius mentions lions.
    I recall reading that once during these Forum Games an execution was carried out against a Roman citizen, it was a hi-profile case.
     I *believe* he killed his father to gain his inheritance and was sentenced to death by wild beasts (lions).

     The big crowd pleaser was IIRC a group lions were all released *at once* into this small arena, I assume thru these tunnel openings.
    *If* after the execution they sent in the wild beast-hunters they would have had a nice double-feature for the Mob:).


    Ok still standing in front of the Basilica Julia by the dirt rectangle notice that between the 3rd & 4th large column base there is a little fenced inlet that allows you to enter a short distance into the Forum Sq.

     See the short metal roof on the otherside of the inlet fence, that offers protection to a groundlevel ruin called the Lacus Curtius.

     A Roman Emperor was assassinated on the Via Sacra as he passed the Lacus Curtius.

     Go back in time to the morning of Jan 15, 69AD, sit on the steps and play a board game to pass the time.

     You look up from your game as a Roman General hurriedly walks past you and meets a small group of soldiers over by the Miliarium Aureum (Goldern Milestone by the Rostra).
    He secretly gets into a litter and is carried quickly away.

     Later in the day a friend stops by and tells you that a large group of soldiers are hanging around over by the Basilica Aemila...out of sight.

     Much later you see the Emperor coming down the Via Sacra in a litter surrounded by Guards and followed by his Imperial entourage.

     When he gets in front of you all hell suddenly breaks loose, for your safety you run just inside the Basilica Julia and then turn around to watch a major event unfold before you.

    It's Showtime in the Roman Forum! :)


    Emperor Nero has finally ticked everyone off, the People, the Senate, some of his Legions (many remain loyal because he pays them well), his own inner circle and the Praetorian Guard.

    The Senate declares Nero a 'Public Enemy' and sentenced to be flogged to death.

     Everyone deserts Nero except for a few loyal Freedman.
    He flees his empty Palace and Rome in disguise.

     In a villa 6km away he kills himself (June 9, 68AD) with the help of one of his Freedman just before he is about to be captured.
     His last words are "Qualis artifex pereo" or "What a loss I shall be to the arts".

     He is 30yrs old and has ruled for 14yrs.
     And this ends the direct male line of Emperors descended from Emperor Augustus (Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero).

     And this 'Imperial job opening' starts a Civil War and what is called 'The Year of the Four Emperors' with all of them trying to become 'King of the (Palatine) Hill'.

     It's actually 18 months, 2 of the Emperors will die in the Roman Forum, 1 will commit suicide and in the end Vespasian will win and later die a natural death.

     Emperor 'Servius Sulpicius Galba' (Dec 3BC-Jan 69AD) known as GALBA.
    Officially Emperor from June 9, 68AD until Jan 15, 69AD.

    He's from a Patrician Family of nobility and wealth with a distinguished military career.

     At this time he is the Governor of Eastern Spain.
     The Senate and the Praetorian Guard have offered him the Throne and with the help of his colleague and friend General Otho (who is the 1st to join his cause) they march on Rome.

     So Galba becomes Emperor at age 69 but he's sick and somewhat infirm.
    And later while those in his inner circle are enriching themselves, he reneges on his promise of bonuses to the Praetorian Guard and the soldiers that supported him in seizing the Throne.

     In the last 2 weeks of Galba's life the troops in Germania rebel ($$$) and proclaim their Commander 'Aulus Vitellius' Emperor.

     Emperor Galba proclaims 'Lucius Calpurnius Piso Licinianus' (known as Piso) as his adopted son and heir to the throne.
     This really incurred the wrath of his friend and loyal ally the Roman General Otho who supported his rise to power at the risk of his own life.
    Otho believed it would be him rather than this inexperienced aristocrat.

     Piso is 31, from an ancient family, he's well behaved, strait-laced and Galba admires his character.
    But he has no military experience and the military dislikes his relatives who were involved in palace conspiracies against Nero.

    Galba has now made a mortal enemy of Otho but he will not realize it until the last day of his life.

    Otho plots with the Praetorian Guard to kill Galba and become Emperor.

     On Emperor Galba's last morning (15Jan69), he makes a sacifice at the Palatine Hill's 'Temple of Apollo' (remains are visible today) where the soothsayer tells him "Danger is lurking and your murderers are not far away".

     But Otho who is standing right behind Galba tells him that *he* interpretes this warning as a favorable omen (Otho the spindoctor:) ).

     Then a Freedman brings Otho a message saying "The architect and his contractors are expecting you".
     This is the signal that the Praetorian Guards are ready and waiting.

     Otho slips away from the Palatine Hill and is met by 20 soldiers with a covered litter at the Miliarium Aureum (the gilded Milestone behind the Rostra).
    From there he is secretly brought to the Praetorian camp.

     A short time later Galba learns of Otho's defection and conspiracy and meets with his advisors.

     A soldier from the Praetorian Guard arrives at the Palace with a bloody sword, he tells the Emperor that he has killed Otho.
    But this claim is just part of the plot, Otho is alive and his following is growing by the hour.
     Galba sends Piso to the Praetorian Camp to find out if Otho is really dead.

    Galba decides to go to the Rostra and address the people in the Forum (another version has him going to place the Imperial Standards in the Temple of Concord).
    With Otho dead perhaps he thought with a leaderless conspiracy he could rally the troops and the citizens over to his side (remember Vitellius is still marching on Rome).

     Galba's litter and his bodyguards leave the Palace on the Palatine Hill and enter the Forum.
    Suddenly Piso shows-up and tells Galba that Otho is alive and marching on him.
     Galba's advisors and Piso tell him to return to the safety of the Palace but he refuses.

     When they reach this spot on the Via Sacra alongside the Forum Square between the Basilica Julia and the Lacus Curtius, all hell breaks loose.

     Because suddenly over by the Basilica Aemilia on the opposite side of the Forum Square foot and mounted soldiers swarm out of hiding.

     The citizens around Emperor Galba's entourage scatter for their own safety but also to reposition themselves to watch the show:).

     The majority of the Emperor's bodyguards also flee and leave him sitting on the ground in his litter.

     The Standard Bearer of this Cohort rips the medallion with Galba's image off the Standard and throws it on the ground before he flees.

     Only a few loyal soldiers remain under the barrage of arrows.
    They try to move the Emperor's litter to safety but in the onslaught they drop it causing the frail Emperor to tumble out onto the ground.

     These last remaining soldiers are either killed, wounded or flee to save themselves.

     Now there is but one lone Centurion remaining to defend his Emperor.
    He remains out of loyality, honor and duty, his name is Sempronius Densus.

    [Centurions use a 'switch of vine' to keep the soldiers under them in line when they get disorderly or disobey, rather like the riding crop that was carried by officers in the recent past. The humiliation of being struck is greater than the actual pain inflicted to a soldier.]

     The soldiers approach Sempronius as now the battle is over and it's only him between them and the Emperor lying on the ground.

     Sempronius starts berating them on their disloyality and striking-out at them with his 'switch of vine'.

     Finally he draws his sword and holds them off until he is cut under the knees and falls to the ground.

     Now the soldiers surround the prostrate Emperor.
    He then bravely faces death by offering his throat to them with these words "Strike, if it is for the good of Rome".

     A soldier from the 15th Legion drives his sword into Galba's throat.
    The other soldiers all start stabbing him in a frenzy and he is finally beheaded.  

     It's said that Galba's loyal dog also defended his master and had to be killed by the soldiers to get to the Emperor :(.

     The head is brought to Otho, stuck on a lance and paraded around.
    Later it's sold to Galba's daughter so she can bury it with the remains of her father.

     And Piso that lucky fellow who was heir to the throne upon Galba's death.
    Well he was wounded in the attack but managed to run into the 'Temple of Vesta' complex.

     It's ~100m and a very good choice, you see if even the youngest child Vestal stood before him and forbid his death, no Roman would disobey her command.

     But it didn't happen that way, either there was no time or they just didn't want to get involved. Or perhaps by him violating their sacred House as a *Male* who was probably armed kind-of ticked them off.
    I assume he just stayed in the atrium which is bad enough and was not foolish enough to enter either the actual 'Temple of Vesta' or the 'House of the Vestal Virgins'.

    A soldier named Murcus drags him out into the street and beheads him.

    It's impossible to know the events actual timeline but if he was killed after Galba, he was the shortest reigning Emperor in history.
    His '15 seconds of fame' so to speak:).

    So now we have Emperor 'Marcus Salvius OTHO' and I feel bad for this guy.
     His wife Poppaea left him for Emperor Nero and friend Galba passes him over as heir to the Empire.

     Now finally he gets to be the 'top dog' but 3 months later he is dead at 36.
     Remember Vitellius in Germania, well his troops are marching on Rome.
    Otho heads out north to meet him.

     Otho is far from the front lines when their troops engage.
    A soldier later arrives at his camp and tells the Emperor that the battle was lost.
     Otho's aides call the soldier a liar and a coward.
    The soldier to prove he is neither, falls on his sword in front of the Emperor!
     Otho upon seeing this cries out that he will not subject good soldiers such as this to sacrifice everything for him.

     He tells his men to stop this 'Roman on Roman' bloodshed and to seek refuge.
     That night he gets his affairs in order, has a good night's sleep and in the morning stabs himself in the chest with a dagger.

    Which brings us to our next contestant... Emperor Vitellius. Remember him, he was tortured to death by year's end on the stairs behind the Arch of Septimius Severus.

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    I don't know if this will work but click-on 'Post a reply to this message' and try to cut, copy and paste it from there.
    Regards, Walter

    ps I'm still trying to finish this but time is not on my side :(.

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    Still standing in front of the Basilica Julia walk into that small fenced-in section between Column Bases 3 & 4 and into the Forum Square.
    If you're just reading this and haven't been to Rome the bad news is the Forum Sq. is fenced-off.
    But this little nook between the columns puts you in the Forum, so I'll point out some of the sites starting on your left and going clockwise to the right.

    [For reference; The leftside fence is West, rightside fence is East and the fence connecting them is North]

     But first walk over to the left far corner (West & North junction) of this fenced-in area and on the otherside of the fence you can see 1 of the openings for the Gladiator tunnels beneath the Forum Sq. (it has a metal grate over it). If you are tall and stand on your toes you can look slighly down in it and see the top curve of the tunnel's vault.  Also I forgot to mention earlier that in the 19C excavations of these tunnels 'wooden hoists' (to lift objects/animals/men thru these openings?) were found in those square rooms that are shown in that tunnel diagram website you looked at earlier.

    Ok now see that large brick base and tall column from the Westside fence.
     That is the COLUMN OF PHOCAS.
     Notice its odd location (off-center in the Forum and in front of the Rostra's southern end).
     The location was puzzling to early archaeologists & historians but later it was discovered that it was designed to fit-in visually when approaching the Forum by the Argiletum (the road between the Basilica Aemila and the Curia Julia).

     As you would see the 1st honorary column on its right and the 2nd honorary column on its left with this predominant honorary column in-between them.

     Also the marble steps part way around it are not square to the base but were made to visually line-up with the 1st & 2nd Column Bases.

    The steps were once rectangular marble frieze blocks that were cut to make the steps which were then placed over a base of tufa blocks.
     These steps formed a pyramid-like structure (14.8mx14.8m) around the brick-faced concrete base and were a later addition to this monument.

     The northside of the steps were demolished in 1903 to uncover the end of the 'Surdinus Inscription' on the Forum pavement.

     Atop the square brick-faced concrete base is a Plinth/Pedestal which is made-up of marble blocks.
    There is a inscription on the plinth's northside that we will get to later.

     On top of the plinth is a 14.8m fluted Corinthian column of Proconnesian marble.
     The column was made in the 2ndC-AD and was relocated & reused here.
    The 7 drums of the column are etched with faint lettering (A-A, B-B etc) so that it could be reassembled here exactly as it was at its original location.

     The Corinthian Capital on top of the column is mid-2ndC-AD and also reused from another site.
     On top of the Capital would be where an honorary statue would be placed.
     On Aug 1, 608AD this is the *very last* monument to be *dedicated* in the Roman Forum, after this the Forum is slowly abandoned as the city center except for some churches & Christian bldgs built here.
    But this base and column was actually built in the 4thC-AD and dedicated to someone else who very likely had his statue atop it.
    It is not known to whom positively but it might have been Emperor Diocletian (284-305AD)?  So even when originally built in the 4thC it was built with recycled materals and then later just rededicated with a new statue and new inscription in 608AD.   

     The 608AD inscription on the northside of the marble pedestal which you can't see from here says.
     "To our best, most gracious, most pious lord Phocas <- [name is erased due to a later damnatio memoriae on Phocas], supreme commander in perpetuity, crowned by God, triumphant, emperor for ever. Smaragdus, previously Praepositor at the Palatium, Patrician and Exarch of Italy, devoted to his Grace because of the innumerable benefactions of his piety, the peace brought to Italy and liberty preserved, placed this shining statue of his Majesty on top of this subline column to his perennial glory, on 1 August AD 608".

     Basically this monument is a Thank-You card from Smaragdus and Pope Boniface IV to Emperor Phocas for giving the Pope the Pantheon to be used as a church and for helping Smaragdus get reinstated as the Exarch of Ravenna.

    [Keep in mind history is written by the victors who in this case have a bias towards Phocas]

    FLAVIUS PHOCAS AUGUSTUS Byzantine Emperor from 602-610AD.
    Described by ancient writers as...well pretty damn ugly :) (small, deformed, long bushy eyebrows connected together, ugly discolored scar on cheek and a red head :) ).

    He was possibly from Thrace and was a Sublatern Officer (Lieutentant) in the Roman Army.
     Not much is known about his early life but he was sent as part of an army delegation to Constantinople to air their     grievances to the Emperor.
    So he must have been respected by his superiors.
     And he also seems to have been popular among his men.

    In 602 Emperor Maurice orders the army to set-up their winter camp on the far side of the Danube River.
    Dumb move, if attacked they have a cold icy river behind them so no retreat is possible.
    Any sane commander would always put a river between his winter camp and the enemy.
     Also the Emperor cut the army's operating expenses just before this.

    They are not 'happy campers' and the army revolts with Phocas as their leader.

     Phocas and his boys capture Constantinople where he is proclaimed Emperor.

     Maurice had already abdicated and fled the city, he and his 5 sons have found sanctuary in a monastery.

     Later Maurice and his sons are dragged out of the monastery where one by one each of the sons is killed before his eyes, sadistically saving the father for last.

     Their bodies are thrown into the sea but their heads were displayed in the city but later given a Christian burial.

     Emperor Phocas cut taxes which made him popular with the people, ordered much needed land reform for farmers and was liked by the Pope and Church.

     But he took the Empire by a coup which hadn't happened since Constantine made Constantinople the capital almost 3 centuries before. And this made him some powerful enemies within the Empire.

     Also he now has the barbarians nipping at the borders and taking back territory.

     It is *claimed* that he killed thousands of his political enemies and seized their property.

     So was he a good Emperor for the commoners with his tax cuts and land reform?
     Or a bad Emperor on border/territory defense, keeping the Empire united (civil war) and a cold blooded murderer of thousands of citizens?
     Who knows in reality?

    But he is known today as a brutal Emperor, perhaps he was or wasn't or alittle bit of both.  And it's not like tax cuts and land reform for the poor are going to make the rich and powerful happy with you.

     The Persian King Khosrau II breaks his treaty and claims a son of Emperor Maurice survives (a lie) who he declares is now the real Emperor.

     The King also supports the Roman General Narses who never accepted Phocas as Emperor.

     Phocas is now at war (~607AD) with the Persians and a Roman General.

     In 608 the Governor (Exarch) of Africa along with his son (both named Heraclius) start a civil war against Phocas.

     In 610 Heraclius (the son) reaches Constantinople.
    Phocas' army at this point has either been defeated or has defected to Heraclius.

    Outside the city the rich and powerful meet Heraclius as a conquering hero. Even Phocas' own 'son in law' leading the Imperial Guard defects.

     Heraclius' army enter the city unopposed and capture Phocas.

    "And all the officers and senators had taken up a position near the palace, and they were lying in wait for Phocas.

    But when Phocas and Leontius the chamberlain became aware that they sought with evil intent to slay them as they had slain the depraved Bonosus, the two arose and seized all the money that was in the imperial treasury which had been amassed by Maurice, and likewise that which had been amassed by (Phocas) himself from the Roman nobles whom he had put to death, and whose property he had confiscated, and likewise the money of Bonosus, and they cast it into the waves of the sea, and so thoroughly impoverished the Roman empire.
    And thereupon the senators and the officers and soldiers went in and seized Phocas, and took the imperial crown from his head, and (they seized) Leontius the chamberlain likewise, and conducted them in chains to Heraclius to the church of S. Thomas the Apostle, and they put both of them to death in his presence.
    And they cut off the privy parts of Phocas, and tore off his skin right down to his legs because of the dishonour and shame he had brought on the wife of <Photius> because she was consecrated to the service of God, for he had taken her by force and violated her, although she was of an illustrious family.
    And next they took the bodies of Phocas and Leontius and Bonosus and they conveyed them to the city of Constantinople, and they burnt them with fire, and scattered the ashes of their bodies to the winds; for they were detested by all men" (CX.4-7). The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu.  

     Phocas' statues are torn down and his inscriptions are erased thru-out the Empire.

     And if you have binoculars or a good telephoto lens you can see where his name was erased from the inscription on the northside of this monument (you have to be on the otherside of the Forum Sq. in front of the Curia).

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    Ok now, look at the pavement directly in front of the Column of Phocas and you can just make-out bronze lettering running left-to-right 13m/42ft long.
    The bronze letters (30cm/1ft) are a 1955 restoration on an inscription that was cut (matrices) into the Forum pavement and then fitted with bronze letters which were likely taken centuries later and melted down.

    If I am not mistaken it is only a partial restoration of the lettering and it has been restored only with the letters

     But it would have originally read
    and stood for L. Naenius Surdinus (his name) PR (PRaetor-the office he held).

    Surdinus was a 'Praetor Peregrinus' which is basically a high ranking judge who oversees trials involving Peregrini either with each other or with Roman citizens and also their conduct in Roman society.

     A Peregrini is a free-born foreigner who is a Subject of the Roman Empire and has what is called the 'Latin Right'.
    These Rights are less than a Roman Citizen and they can't vote.

     Surdinus was also 1 of 3 men in charge of the Mint ('Triumvir Monetalis' where perhaps the word 'money' comes from) several times between 23-9BC.

     In 14BC a fire destroys much of the Forum and Surdinus oversees (and/or pays for) the paving of the Forum Sq. ~10BC.
     He must have done a damn good job because they let him sign it :).

     Where you are standing the PR is closest to you but upside-down, so the inscription would be seen correctly from the Rostra.

     This photo shows an (I assume) enhanced photo of the complete inscription, the photographer has his back to the Column of Phocas (you can see its shadow on the left).

    Up to his point in history there have been a few repavings of the Roman Forum but this is the last one.
     As the groundlevel rises over the years around the Forum (esp the surrounding Via) a curb will be placed around the Square so you would step-down into it.

     With Augustus ending the Gladiator Games with the wooden stands in the Forum the Square changes.
    In the past monuments were limited and they were either low (like the Lacus Curtius, on the otherside of the fence nearby) or removeable, now they can everywhere and big.

     So the Forum paving you see today is from ~10BC so Caesar never walked upon it but all the later Emperors did.

     It's pretty much intact but it has been patched-up and re-adjusted by archaeologists because some paving stones were robbed in later centuries and some have been removed for modern excavations.

    Besides repaving the Forum Surdinus also restored the Lacus Curtius and built a new Tribunal Praetoris *in* the Forum Sq.

     The Tribunal Praetoris is an elevated outdoor judgment seat of the Praetor (basically a judge at trials).
     Originally in the Comitium on a movable wooden platform, but now a solid fixture with at least a stone base (probably more but nothing elaborate or very high) in the Forum.

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    Ok now, notice the 2 trees growing alongside the 'Surdinus Inscription' in the middle of the Forum.
     They are the Ficus (fig tree), Olea (olive tree) and also notice a very small vine growing there that is the Vitis (grapevine).
      They were planted in the 1950's and there is also a small modern plaque with a Pliny the Elder inscription, I believe the one about these type of trees and vine being planted in medio foro (middle forum) at the Lacus Curtius.

     Ok I get all kinds of conflicting info about what this modern Fig tree represents and its location.
     But there was one major historic fig tree founded in the myth of Rome's beginning.

     We got 2 Fig trees in the ancient Comitium but the biggie was the one which was magically transported here from the base of the Palatine/banks of the Tiber River by Attus Navius.
     This was the Fig tree that the infants Romulus and Remus' floating basket got entangled in alongside the river and where the She-Wolf found them.
     That mythical tree was called the Ficus Ruminalis and very sacred.

     Now another Fig tree also in the Comitium was supposedly named after Attus Navis and called the Ficus Navia and stood by his statue.

    [Myths are cool but somewhere in early Roman history they almost certainly did have a real Fig tree growing in the Comitium with this myth attached to it]

     So I'm going with Attus magically transporting this fig tree to the Comitium but doesn't get his own fig tree later on. Because they are either one in the same (a myth name mix-up) or long after the sacred fig tree and Attus are dead this is just a renamed replacement tree.
     Because Tacitus calls the Ficus Navia the 'Arbor Ruminalis' which probably means a direct descendant or replacement for the long dead Ficus Ruminalis.
      Also Tacitus said "its death was taken as an portent of some future event and a new one replanted by the priests.
      In AD 58, during the reign of Nero, the tree did die but then revived and put forth new shoots".

     And later we get ancient writers saying there is a Fig tree (and olive tree & grapevine) in the middle Forum with Pliny saying *at* the Lacus Curtius which some seem to believe it was *in* Lacus Curtius enclosure.
     I'm going with 'next to' the Lacus Curtius which has been the lone main fixture in the Forum for centuries (also used as a reference point for Galba's assassination).

     And I'm going with only 1 Fig tree representing for centuries the long dead and very sacred Ficus Ruminalis which was probably moved when the Comitium was repaved and the main political focal point moved from there to the Rostra?

     Now right in front of you just on the otherside of the fence there is a sunken area where you can see 3 layers of the Forum's pavement.
     The top is from Augustus, below that is from Julius Caesar and below that from Sulla, so all those pavings come from the 1stC-BC.
    And where the modern Fig, Olive and Grapevine grow that is a square area that wasn't paved in ancient times and was left just dirt.
     Seems to me that would be *the* place to plant 2 trees and a vine in ancient times!

     So I'm going with that location and the Fig Tree representing the sacred Ficus Ruminalis because why else would they plant a damn Fig Tree *in* *the* *middle* of the Roman Forum:).

     Remember "conflicting info" so I'm just going with what to me seems logical.

     The ancient olive tree and grapevine just seem to have grown there naturally or even if they were planted they have no special significance, only the Fig tree would have been considered sacred.

     You can see a Fig tree on both of the 'Plutei of Trajan' (remember in the Curia) and next to it on a pedestal is the Statue of Marsyas which we will get to next (that's a large wineskin on his back). (Click-on photos to enlarge also click-on 'View Original' to enlarge even more).

     That unpaved Fig tree area is also believed to be its location, next-to most likely.

     Ok this one also has got my head spinning so I'll just wing it right or wrong just like the fig tree:).

     Marsyas in 4C-BC Greek Mythology is a Satyr who plays one of those flutes with 2 seperate pipes (aulos).
     The Goddess Athena invented this flute but the other Gods made fun of the way her cheeks bulged-out when playing it.
     She threw it away with a curse on it but Marsyas found it and played it.
     Athena finds out and kicks Marsyas' butt.

    *OR*  Marsyas and the God Apollo have a 'Battle of the Bands' to see who is the best player.
     The winner gets to treat the loser anyway he wants to.  The bad news for Marsyas is the Muses are in Apollo's pocket so he loses.
     Marsyas is flayed alive and his skin is nailed to a pine tree.

     In these stories Marsyas is arrogant (hubris) for messing with the Gods but later one of his minor personalities is known for intelligence and self-control.

     Now this statue of Marsyas was depicted as Silenus.
    Silenoi were followers of the Wine God Dionysus who were depicted as balding, fat, thick lipped, squat nosed drunks.
    The Silenoi later merged into one single character called Silenus.
     Silenus was the teacher and faithful friend of Dionysus who was also the oldest, wisest and most drunken of all his followers.
     When drunk he had vast knowledge and the power of prophecy.

     Bottomline; Marsyas and Silenus morph into an ugly old wise man who is a symbol of freedom and civil liberties and that was what the Statue of Marsyas in the Forum represented.

     The statue's relief on the Plutei of Trajan shows him nude (usually he wore just sandals and a hat) and his right hand raised to signify freedom, his left hand holds a large full wineskin on his back & neck.

     This statue was where Emperor Augustus' nymphomanic daughter Julia used to meet her lovers but Senaca claims she also sold her favors there at night.
     And as I mentioned before it's claimed that Julia once held a night time orgy on the Rostra.

     Pliny said she also placed a wreath of flowers (offering) on the statue which really ticked-off dad.

    This statue was often crowned with fresh flowers and once a man named P. Munatius was thrown into chains for stealing them (Pliny). I wonder was he drunk or trying to impress a girl :).
    Regardless, history has recorded his '15 minutes of fame' :).

     Martial said it was also a rendezvous spot for courtesans and also lawyers (well they do have alot in common :) ).

     Ok there is another theory for this square dirt area in the Forum pavement but I don't buy it.

     Inscriptions point to a Praetor's Tribunal located in this area after it was moved from the Comitium when the Rostra was built.
     And it was built here by the pavement Inscription guy L. Naevius Surdinus.

     This wouldn't be extravagant just a Judge's chair possibly on a short wooden platform built on a stone base with maybe an short enclosure wall/fence around it.
     I guess what they are trying to say is, the stone base was later robbed leaving this square dirt void.

     Myself I think if it was a base of finely cut stone blocks or marble it would have had a concrete foundation rather than a dirt foundation (heavy blocks would settle unevenly of the years).  

     Also on the 'Right Plutei of Trajan' it shows the Statue of Marsyas, the Fig Tree, a couple of guys standing and a seated guy on a Tribunal at this end of the Forum.
      This IMO shows the 3 seperate sites nearby one another.

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    WARNING!!!!! The Forum is no longer free. Don't make the same mistake we did (June 2008). We bought tickets at the Palentine ticket office (11 euros) just like the guide books suggested and explored Palentine Hill. Then we went on to the Colosseum. It was just like at Disneyland, having a fast pass and walking by the masses who don't. There was a looooong line to buy tickets but we walked past on the left, put our ticket in the machine, and we were in. When we were done (its was about noon and 90 degrees) we thought we would take on the Forum as well, but in trying to enter through the Arch of Titus, it was an exit only, which was puzzling. We decided to come back the next day. We did not bring the tickets we had bought the day before as we never dreamed we would need them, asuming the Forum was free. WRONG!!! The Forum is now part of a three way, two day 11 euro ticket with Palatine and the Colosseum. If we had the tickets with us, there would have been no charge, but since we didn't want to walk back in the hot sun to get the tickets, we paid 11 euros each again to visit the Forum!! So if you want to visit the Colosseum, buy your ticket either at the Forum entrance (down the street from the Colosseum) or at is is tough order to see all three in one day, especially when it is 90 degrees out, but you can come back the next day and see the site or sites you missed the day before.

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    [UPDATE: On Fodors Sibelius_s posted his/her website which has a couple of photos that might be helpful.
     Go back to #2. BASILICA AEMILA there is this link showing the location of the fused coins on the Basilica's floor. OR
    This photo shows the little fenced-in inlet you must enter to see them, you want to be in the far right corner of the fence. The column stumps are to the right of that hidden by the trees in this photo

    In #16.4 BASILICA JULIA RECTANGULAR OUTLINED STRUCTURE IN THE VIA SACRA This photo shows this brick outlined void/hole in the Via
     Now look over to the Curia, remember the lone pedestal/base between the Curia and the Niger Lapis which you can just make out from here.
     This is the one from Maxentius who after being defeated by Constantine had his name erased from it. On top of the pedestal are holes for clamps to hold either a statue or column.
     One source believes that one of the famous bronze She-wolf statues was put here by Maxentius?
     This pedestal shows that times were tough (money and workmanship-wise) in the 4thC. And even an important Imperial pedestal in a very hi-profile location like this one was just reused from an earlier time.
     It was originally dedicated by the officials of the 'Fabri Tignuarii' (Carpenter's Guild) on Aug 1, 154AD. You can see the long list of these official's names on 2 sides of the pedestal.  I assume that perhaps those 2 sides were at least plastered-over with stucco to hid this? If not, it was pretty cheesy:) ]

    Ok this 10mx9m site stretches along on just the otherside of the fence that runs west-to-east (from the Gladiator tunnel opening over to that modern low tin protective roof).
    This will give you an idea of what the site once looked like Note the fence, well, relief on the fence and 2 pedestals (#17.3 site is also shown).

    LACUS CURTIUS means 'Lake of Curtius' and there are 3 possible scenarios for this site.
     Which ever one is true it's still a major site because of its location and also because it remained intact over the centuries, where-as other monuments in the Forum came and went over the years during the Roman Empire.

     So we have a LACUS which means a LAKE or pool of water and a person's name to work with, in most of the scenarios (except one) the lake would just translate into a pool of water.

     CURTIUS is an ancient (pre-Roman) Sabine family name but after they unite with the Romans (Romulus' era) the name passes-on thru generations of decendents who are now Romans.

    [Ok there are 3 scenarios which can be backed-up by fact or myth. But I'm also going to try and tie them together. This is only what *I* think is possible, so its value is only worth the electrons I used in writing it :) ]

     All 3 scenarios call the site a 'Lacus' but only 1 of them has anything relating to water.

    (1) The earliest is during Romulus' battle with the Sabines (~753BC) when a mounted Sabine Knight gets stuck in the marsh with his horse. In this 1 we have a Lacus and the knight is named Curtius.

    (2) 445BC this area is struck by lighning and as Romans alway do the site is considered sacred and is fenced-in. The Consul that ordered this is named Curtius. The name but no Lacus.

    (3) 362BC An deep abyss opens-up in the Forum, a Roman Knight name Marcus Curtius following an Oracle rides into the abyss which closes-up after him. Again the name but no Lacus.

     Maybe it was a true oral legend about Curtius getting stuck during the Rome-Sabine War.
    But it will still be a swampy marsh 100yrs+ later, so very unlikely it's an exact location.

     But when the Forum is finally canalled and drained there was a small area here that water would still pool (fact). Perhaps it was from an underground spring, remember the Forum was just filled-in with dirt with no stone pavement.
     Now with oral legends and myths still being told later by this early post-Romulus era society perhaps this small pool of water became associated with the stuck-in-the-mud Curtius and was called the Lacus Curtius?

     Or perhaps it never was until centuries later when it gets hit by lightning and the Consul Curtius puts a fence around the spot and later it mistakenly gets tied-in as the location of the stuck in the mud Knight Curtius?

     And still later in time perhaps a small sinkhole opened-up here due to the ground being marshy?
     The Romans have found far lesser omens than a Forum sinkhole to get all panicky about:).

     And then a myth develops about a great abyss, an Oracle and once again a man named Curtius.
     So it's possible all 3 scenarios about this location are true in fact and myth but with the Lacus in the name I have to think that it is tied to the original somehow.

    (1) Now in the beginning of this walk I went over the Roman-Sabine War following the 'Rape of the Sabine Women'.
     Just to recap; You're now standing in a swamp, on your left is the Sabine army and on your right Romulus' army.
     A mounted Sabine Knight named Mettius Curtius gets himself and his horse stuck in the swamp that seperates the 2 armies.
     He was either fighting, attacking or retreating when this happened.
    He survives either way and the Sabine women convince the men to call a truce and the 2 tribes join together as 1.
    That is the story I like:).
    Plus it seems plausible esp with the lacus/lake included in it.
     And as I said Curtius is a Sabine name and the 1st name Mettius comes from the Sabine word Medìss which means Leader.  So I can believe this either as a true oral history or a myth.

     And Livy later said that this *entire* swamp later came to be known as the 'Lake of Curtius' in early ancient times.
    He was a hero in these battles with Romulus so perhaps it wasn't named after him just because he got stuck in the mud:).

    (2) The proof of the lightning strike comes from Varro when the Consul Q. Lutatius Catulus (102BC) and someone named Cornelius wrote that this site was struck by lightning in 445BC and the Consul C. Curtius put a puteal (a round well curb) around the spot which fenced-it off.

    (3) In 56BC a man named Procillis who might have been a Tribune for the Plebians said;
     That in 362BC a chasm appeared here and the Romans consulted the soothsayers who said that they must throw into (sacrifice) the abyss "that which is the greatest strength of the Roman people and the Empire would last forever".

     This oracle was only understood by a young Patrician Knight named Marcus Curtius who armed himself and mounted his horse.
     He then rode his mount into the abyss which closed behind him and Rome was saved.
     Because he understood that Rome's "greatest strength" was its Citizens.

     I don't know it's in the middle of the Republic and hard for me to believe that at this time a wild myth like this could be born without some truth to it?

    Now when the Gauls were heading for Rome the Sybilline Books consulted and interpreted as; If you bury alive 2 Greeks and 2 Gauls in the Forum Boarium you'll win the battle.
     Also when Rome got their butts kicked by Hannibal at Cannae they needed someone to blame.
    Being a male dominated society and not wanting to blame themselves of course. Someone had the bright idea that they lost because the Gods were mad at Rome. And the Gods must be mad because a Vestal Virgin lost the Virgin part, so bury one of them alive to appease the Gods.

     So I wonder, could this story be actually be based on a human sacrifice?

     Could something like just a simple sinkhole have opened-up here in the Forum?
     The Romans panic at this omen and assume that the Gods/Spirits/Dead in the Underworld are not pleased with Rome.
     Soothsayers are consulted and come-up a young Patrician sacrifice as the answer?

     A brave Citizen-Soldier voluntarily riding to his death to save Rome sounds alot better than some unluckly citizen being pitched into a hole and buried alive?

     The Marcus Curtius and the Abyss was *the* story of this site when the remains you see were rebuilt 2000+yrs ago.

     Ok now stand roughly at the middle of the fence |----x----|. In front of you is a relief (plaque) showing an armed (spear, shield, helmet) knight on a horse. The spear and horse's head are pointing down and the horse is slightly angled downward.
     This shows the story of Marcus Curtius sacrificing himself to save Rome by riding into the abyss which then closed-up behind him.

     That relief is a plaster cast of the original now in the Museo Capitolino Nuovo.

     The original was found nearby (somewhere in-between the Column Phocas & Temple Castor) in 1553.

     Ok the 1st relief (lost) was possibly from the 2C-BC and suggested by some to have been a copy or replacement for an even earlier relief.

     A 2nd relief was possibly a copy of the earlier one and dates to post-14BC because there is an inscription on the back with L. Naevius Surdinus' name on it (the pavement inscription guy).
     He almost certainly rebuilt the Lacus Curtius site after the 14BC Fire plus the lastest remains under the low tin roof date to that time.
     So I'm assuming that this ~14BC relief could be seen on both sides?

     Now that 14BC relief is also lost and this is a copy from the later Imperial era and that is the 'original' I mention above which was discovered in 1553.

     The inscription on the back of the relief is the exact same as the Surdinus' inscription on the Forum pavement.

     OVID living in the era of this 14BC relief mentions altars within this site and later Pliny 100+ yrs later mentions an altar that was removed for Julius Caesar's last Gladiator Games in the Forum.

     So Ovid says altars, so more than one.
     I mention this because roughly between you and this relief are 3 square impressions in the pavement, #1 above it #2 above it #3 so in a line.

     #1 is on the earlier pavement with #2 & #3 the Augustus/Surdius pavement.
     These square impressions are believed by some to be where those small votive altars stood.

     It just seems odd to have 2-3 seperate altars for 1 site?

    Perhaps #2 & #3 which are right next to each other in-line are the base/legs for a single altar?
    Where-as #1 is off-center and a little bit away from #2 & #3 it's possibly something seperate (an earlier altar or pedestal?) or was never replaced after the later paving of the site?

     Some say these impressions were possibly pedestals/bases for statues.
     It was in a hi-profile area so maybe 2 or 3 nice little bronze statues would dress it up a bit:).

    Ok let's get to the heart of this site.
    Walk over to the small low tin roof.
     Now before we begin imagine this whole site was fenced-in with either a low screen or balustrade.
     This complete site (10m long x 9m at its widest) was not a rectangle but 5 sided.
    Picture the modern fence as the only straight long side, then a short section to the right of the tin roof, then an angled section over to the plaque, an angled section from plaque to Gladiator opening and an angled section from the opening back to the modern fence.

     Ok now bend-down and look under the modern protective tin roof.
    That is the Lacus Curtius which in its hay-day looked like a very fancy well. OR

     There were 12 slotted rough tufa blocks (seen in photo) which formed the base of this 12-sided circular well and fitted into each block's slot was very likely a decorative marble slab.
     And probably some kind of marble ornamental top connecting the 12 marble slabs together?

     So what we have now is what looks like a 12-sided well maybe ~1m high.

     This well-like structure encloses a circle of tufa blocks but in the exact center is a puteal (in photo; remains are a small half-circle).
     In this case a puteal is a round stone curb which surrounds a well.
    So now we have a large well-like structure which surrounds a small hole which is actually a well but this is definitely a dry well with no water.

    [But a Puteal could also be the large stone curb that surrounds where there was a 'lightning strike'. The area would now be considered sacred (sign from the Gods) and fenced-off by a puteal maybe 2-3m in diameter.]

     Suetonius said; That the Equestrian Order voluntarily and unanimously decided to celebrate Emperor Augustus' birthday with a 2-day festival.
     Where men of all classes would throw coins into the Lacus Curtius as a vow for Augustus' good health and well-being.
     It's believed that the coins were tossed into the 12-sided Well and not the center hole.

    A 'Well' where 'Coins" are thrown in for 'Wishes', I wonder if this fad will ever catch on? :-)

    [The Lacus Curtius we see today are the remains of rebuilding by Sulla, Julius Caasar and mostly Augustus, all 3 done in the 1C BC.]

     Ok as I said; 2000+yrs ago when this site was being rebuilt the Romans were going exclusively with Marcus Curtius abyss story.

     The 'stuck in the mud' Curtius and the Lightning Strike from the Gods myth seems to have been left behind.

     With the Equestrian Curtius on the relief and the Equestrian Order pitching coins into the Well this seems to now be their turf:).

     One source believes that the Hole might be connected to the dead and/or the underworld (like the Mundus by the Arch of S. Severius) because of the Abyss opening up and the basically human sacrifice of Curtius.
     We also have 2 incidents and evidence of human sacrifice just a stone's throw away from the Lacus Curtius.

     If true perhaps the site and altar wasn't for the heroic Curtius but instead for keeping the dead/Underworld satisfied.
     Sounds reasonable and perhaps the Hole was like a 'pozzi rituali' where the small animal sacrifices were offered by the Priests?

     Who knows perhaps it did start as a feared site where the Underworld had to be appeased by animal sacrifice and worship?
     But a couple of centuries later it became a site where the hero Marcus Curtius was honored?

     Anyway whenever or however this site began it ended as the Marcus Curtius heroically saves Rome monument.

    Plautus who I've mentioned before was the author of several comedies (early 2ndC BC) says that the Lacus Curtius was the place where people gathered to gossip and slander.

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    This post is getting *very* long:) and I'm afraid that someday it will be too large for any new additions to be added.

    So just in case that ever happens
    I will start Part 2 on this URL OR

    But until that time ever comes I will continue posting on this post. Regards, Walter

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    Ozziez -

    In case Walter is not able to do more on this, check out another of his posts regarding a walking tour of Julius Caesar assassination sites:

    I found it to be really interesting and helpful while we were in Rome.

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    #17.5 HOLE

    Ok now, still standing in front of the tin roof over the Lacus Curtius look 90deg to the right (east) and you can see another Gladiator tunnel opening (in line with the 1 you have already seen 90deg to your left).

     Now look 45deg to the right (northeast). See the fenced-in big Hole in the center of the Forum Sq.
      And behind that are some column fragments and a rectangular stone pedestal base.

     In 1902 the archaeologist Boni was excavating the Gladiator tunnels beneath the Forum when he found a section of the main tunnel and 1 branch off of it blocked by concrete.

      The next year (1903-4) he dug this hole to excavate this underground oddity.

     This 1.5m Hole was once capped with large travertine blocks*** which were level with or slightly above the Forum pavement, making a massive base for something with the concrete foundation below for support. ***I don't know how they knew this, perhaps the lowest level of blocks was not removed?

      I get the impression that this Hole had been filled-in and paved-over at a later date (when whatever was here was removed along with the large travertine blocks below groundlevel) with the same type paving stones that make-up the Forum Sq.  

      This excavation exposed a concrete base 1.5m below the present pavement level that is 11.80m long x 5.9 wide and over 5m deep (~400 cubic meters of concrete).
     This Hole also has walls of Opus Caementicium.

     But the mystery only deepened when they hit this concrete base.
    Because on top of this large concrete base were three travertine blocks set into the concrete.
     These blocks have a square hole in the center (0.44x0.44m & 0.15m deep).
    Traces of bronze and carbon were found in these sq. holes.

     At the time Boni thought these were support holes for the Equus Domitiani (91AD), a colossal bronze equestrian statue of Domitian.

    Coins from that period show this statue as a striding horse with the right front foot resting on a symbolic head of the Rhine, this would account for only 3 leg supports.  Although nearby, this was not that statue's location.

      Also Statius mentions this statue's massive base, so there would be no need or logical reason to support the horse's legs thru the base, then thru 1.5m of stone blocks and into a concrete base.

    Plus a recent discovery puts this concrete base during Augustus' reign (31BC-14AD).

      Also suggested is that these were support holes for poles displaying trophies or something else that poles could do.
     It would seem to be an awful lot of overkill (400 cubic M of concrete & 1.5m of large stone blocks) just to put up 3 large wooden poles?

      It's likely that the 1.5m of travertine blocks were a foundation for a building (temple? gov't bldg?, shrine?, etc)?

     And the builders were perhaps concerned about the structural weakness that the abandoned tunnels might cause, so they were filled-in with concrete?

     I'm going with; Augustus puts a large heavy bldg (temple, gov't, shrine, etc) at that location which was gone by Domitian's reign (81-96AD) because it's very possible the huge equestian statue of Domitian (next site) encoached upon this area.
      All Domitian's statues were destroyed (damnito memoriae) esp this one, so now the area is back level.

      It's believed that Trajan (98-117AD) later built a bldg at this location also.

      There is also evidence for other large rectangular bases in this area either for equestrian statues or arches but 2 were for bldgs.

      Back to the 3 hollow travertine blocks with traces of bronze and carbon found within them.

     Because of the 4th hollow block mentioned below, I have to think those 3 hollow blocks might have had some ritual significance?  

    Perhaps Pozzi Ritulai? Priests do a sacrifice at this bldg looking for omens or blessings at the begining of construction?
    Or perhaps to appease whatever they had disturbed (see below).

    Burnt offerings might leave traces of carbon?

    Or perhaps they were just something structural.

     Traces of bronze; Perhaps in the making with tools of these blocks?

     Now at the eastern end of this concrete base at a slighty lower level there is another 4th hollow travertine block set into the concrete but this one had a travertine lid in place.

     Inside this travertine stone box were found small perfectly preserved clay jars/vases/pottery with sand, stone, pitch, fragments of tortoise shell and in one a small piece of quartz with alittle of gold attached. These jars date to 675-650BC.

     It is believed that when the workers were digging out this large hollow for pouring the concrete base they found these jars which were believed to be tomb funerary offerings.

      And after the job was complete they religiously reburied these jars in this travertine vault.

      Also the official Rome Forum guidebook mentions the ancient scholar Varro who believed *this*? was the ancient cult area established by the 2nd King Numa Pompilius (715BC) where sacred objects belonging to him were buried.
     Which would mean that it was excavated during Augustus' early reign because Varro died in 27BC.

     Which seems to me; They found some common funerary objects which the Forum has alot of and automatically connect them to a King because they are ancient and they must be his?
    Some archaeologists/historians do this today because that is what they *want* to find also for PR, status and funding :).

     Also this Hole is wrongly ID'ed as the *Vestal Virgin's* 'Doliola' (place of jars).

     Their Doliola was where the Vestals buried the Palladium and sacred relics in terra-cotta jars when fleeing the Gallic invasion of Rome.
     But that site is recorded by ancient writers to be south of the Roman Forum (Forum Boarium area).

    This site can be called a Doliola because of the jars in the 4th travertine hollow but not *the* Doliola of the Vestal Virgins.

    Now during this 1903/4 excavation of this site the bodies of a man and woman from the 7thC BC were found (~3-5m from the NE corner of the Hole.

     Their burial contained no funerary equipment like at many other burial sites in the Forum during that time period.
    It was only them and it's concluded that they were both a expiatory human sacrifice.

     Their remains are now in the Forum Museum (Antiquarium Forense) Room 3, the room with the large lead container in the center.

     I recall that both have a finger-size hole in their head which was possibly how they were executed?

     I wonder, human sacrifice to request something or appease the Gods is very possible but I wonder if it also might have been a criminal execution for committing a capital crime (murder, treason, heresy, forbidden love {adultery, incest, etc} )?

     Also I mentioned this before; Between this Hole and the Column Bases a (radar?) sounding was done. And 6m below an image of a man, woman and child's skeletons were seen, they were apparently bound together and thrown into this (pre-drained) marsh and drowned. They are also believed to be a human sacrifice.

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    On the leftside or northside of this Hole and sllghtly overlapping this hole was the site of what is believed to be the removed monument of the bronze equestrian statue of Domitian (Equus Domitiani).

    At that location there is a rectangle of blocks (7.8m x 12.2m) in the Forum pavement.

      And below that a concrete base but unlike the Hole's concrete base this base doesn't block the Gladiator's tunnels.

     This formed the foundation for the large pedestal that supported the huge Domitian equestian statue.

     Also Domitian wanted to show that he had a bigger one than Julius Caesar :).
    Caesar had a large equestian statue in the nearby Forum of Caesar.

     Statius mentions the "massive base" which I assume to mean it was very high.

    The statue faced east with his horse striding forward (one leg in the air), Domitian in military uniform with General's cloak and sword, on his left hand was a figure of Minerva holding a shield and his right hand was extended in a gesture of peace.

    This bronze statue was put there in 91AD in honor of Domitian's campaign in Germany.

      In 96AD Domitian is assassinated and the Senate decreed a 'damnatio memoriae' on him.

     The statue is destroyed and the pedestal is very likely removed.

      There is an ancient urban legend that his widow collected pieces of a smashed statue of her husband and had them pieced back together.
     She then had the statue erected on the Clivus Capitolinus in full view of the Senate House (Curia).
      Very very unlikely with a damnatio memoriae against him plus his loving wife was in on his assassination.

      And even if true it would not have been this huge equestian statue as it is sometimes suggested.

    But that is not to say that this urban legend isn't based on some facts.

    Procopius ~550AD writing in his Anecdota (Secret History) says that there was a pieced together bronze statue in that location during his lifetime which he says was Domitian (or was this just part of the urban legend? ) .

      So the statue seems to be a fact and this is the urban legend to explain it in his lifetime?

    "...the Senate passed a decree that not even the name of this emperor should remain in inscriptions, nor any statue or portrait of him be preserved.

    Cerainly from the inscriptions everywhere in Rome, and wherever else his name had been inscribed, it was chiselled out, as can still be seen, leaving all the rest intact; and nowhere in the Roman Empire is there a single likeness of him except for a solitary bronze statue, which survived in the following way.

    Domitian's consort was a woman of good birth, and highly respected, who had herself never done the least wrong to any man alive, or approved a single one of her husband's actions. So she was very highly esteemed, and the Senate at this time sent for her and invited her to ask for anything she liked. She made only one request--that she might take Domitian's body and bury it, and set up a bronze statue of him in a place of her own choosing. The Senate agreed to this; and the widow, wishing to leave to later generations a monument to the inhumanity of those who had carved up her husband, devised the following plan.

    Having collected Domitian's flesh, she put the pieces together carefully and fitted them to each other; then she stitched the whole body together and showed it to the sculptors, asking them to make a bronze statue portraying the tragic end of the dead man.

    The artists produced the statue without loss of time; and the widow took it and erected it in the street that leads up to the Capitol, on the right-hand side as you go there from the Forum: it showed the appearance and the tragic end of Domitian, and does so to this day."

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    I'm having a very hard time posting to this thread with WebTv (too lazy to learn the computer :) ).

    So I am going to start posting on the 'Part 2' part of this thread which is at OR
    Regards, Walter

    p.s. Soon I'll get a scary computer :) and resume the walk on this thread also.

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    "There are twin Gates of War, for by that name men call them and they are hallowed by men's awe and the dread presence of heartless Mars. A hundred bars of bronze and iron's tough, everlasting strength, close them, and Janus, never moving from that threshold, is their guard. When the senators have irrevocably decided for battle, the consul himself, a figure conspicuous in Quirine Toga of State and Gabine Cincture, unbolts these gates, and their hinge-posts groan, it is he who calls the fighting forth, then the rest of their manhood follows, and the bronze horns, in hoarse assent, add their breath". [Later he writes about closing the doors] "The terrible iron-constricted Gates of War shall shut and safe within them shall stay the godless and ghastly Lust of Blood, propped on his pitiless piled armory, and still roaring from gory mouth, but held fast by a hundred chains of bronze knotted behind his back".

    from Aeneid VII. 601-640 It is so joyful to see Virgil quoted. I have this in Latin somewhere.

    ...there are twin gates of War (so they are named),

    sanctified by religion, and by dread of fierce Mars:

    a hundred bars of bronze, and iron’s eternal strength,

    lock them, and Janus the guardian never leaves the threshold.

    When the final decision of the city fathers is for battle,

    the Consul himself, dressed in the Quirine toga, folded

    in the Gabine manner, unbars these groaning doors, himself,

    and himself invokes the battle: then the rest of the men

    do so too, and bronze horns breathe their hoarse assent.

    Latinus was also commanded to declare war in this way

    on Aeneas’s people, and unbolt the sad gates,

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