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Bill Thayer

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Scene 17
This webpage reproduces a section of
A Description of the Trajan Column
by John Hungerford Pollen

printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode,
printers to Queen Victoria
London, 1874

Text and engravings are in the public domain.
Any color photographs are © William P. Thayer 1997-


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Scene 19

Scenes of the spiral band running up the shaft

 p123  XVIII. Burning of the Dacian quarters

The emperor, holding a spear, has ascended a rocky eminence. In two or three places before and behind him, apparently in his path, are short and low walls, on the face of which are upright ribs. Some interpret these as ramps of a staircase.31 They are more like impediments to the ascent of the path. Before him are small square enclosures formed by stone copings, in which are pairs of small obelisks or cippi, or memorial stones, which Muziano considers to be Dacian graves. These are outside a double wall, protected by a wet ditch, forming a semicircle, part of the enclosure of a fortified place. The wall is of masonry. It is entered by an arched gateway, covered by a lofty pediment, and approached by a wooden bridge, removable,  p124 though not hung by chains. On the far side of the double wall is a row of six heads on spears. They are wasted almost to skeletons, are beardless, and probably represent Roman captives taken in the wars of Domitian. A standard, a Roman draco with fringed edge, is struck up amongst them, on it can be distinguished the letter R. Two wooden look-out structures are erected on the same spot. One is a small square guard house showing a square window in the front, a gabled roof, and a circular opening in the gable. It stands on four posts. The other is round, of large size, open at the top, and defended by a bulwark of stout upright planks set close together, and pointed on the tops. Beside this is a Dacian serpent standard also fixed upright in the ground.

Beyond these look-outs are two roofed buildings of masonry. Trajan is giving orders to set the whole place on fire. In the foreground below the rock on which he stands are Dacian houses of wood. One is on posts, covered and roofed with planking and skins, in which the nails can be distinguished. The planking is strengthened by outside beams nailed across them. There is a square window on the end, and the roof is gabled. It is entered by a ladder. Another wooden building, similarly constructed, is built on the ground, and entered by a door on the ground floor. They are defended by an enclosure of palisades set close together and pointed. Soldiers are setting fire to these buildings. The whole fortress has the appearance of a Roman station occupied by the enemy, who have added wooden buildings to the stone erections of the former possessors. A square fort is seen in the distance. The beaten army retreats through the dense forest.

The Author's Note:

31 Froehner, Col. Traj.

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Page updated: 27 Nov 01