[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

This webpage reproduces an article in
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 22, No. 2 (Apr.‑Jun. 1918), pp175‑188.

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p175 Notes on the Servian Wall

A. — A Gateway in the Forum Boarium. Ut magnam Herculis aram amplecteretur. Tacitus, Ann. XII.24.

The old controversy as to why the pomerium did not follow the Servian wall over the Aventine ought to be settled by Professor Merrill's simple answer that there was no Servian wall on the Aventine.1 Indeed his arguments are valid even if by "Servian wall" we understand an actual stone rampart and not merely earthen breastworks. But if that old wall of the regal period was actually made of stone, as now seems likely, and if it did not encircle the Aventine but only the city of the four regions, there ought to be some trace of it between the Porta Capena and the Tiber. Indeed it is very likely that the famous blocks of "cappellaccio" — the dark gray, flaky tufa cut in low flat slabs — on the southwestern escarpment of the Palatine, and the two fragmentary walls of the same material that came to view above the "Scalae Caci" in 1907 belonged to such a city wall.

There was furthermore a gateway with a section of wall some forty meters south of S. Maria in Cosmedin which may have been a survival of this original Servian wall. In the Notizie degli Scavi of 1886 (p274) Lanciani gives a very brief description of it, which Borsari2 repeated after the wall had been destroyed. It was un grande arco costrutto di grandi blocchi di tufo cinereo, 3.30 meters wide (Lanciani); and Borsari thought it was the Porta Trigemina of the Servian (Aventine) wall. The Trigemina it could hardly have been, for that gate continued in use, while the arch in question was built over with opus reticulatum in the late republic or early empire. It as was probably not a triumphal or honorary arch since its dimensions — just twelve Italic feet — would indicate a structure of the fourth century or earlier.3 By p176the process of elimination it ought to be the gateway of an early city wall other than the Aventine rampart. The position serves excellently for the lower and last gate of our hypothetical wall of the "four regions," which in dropping from the Palatine would naturally swing somewhat southward to include the more important part of the Forum Boarium. This line also proves to coincide with the southern section of what Tacitus calls the Palatine pomerium, which, though it be an antiquarian vagary, was probably based in part upon some visible evidence of a wall. His interesting words are: A foro boario ubi aereum tauri simulacrum aspicimus . . . sulcus designandi oppidi coeptus, ut magnam Herculis aram amplecteretur (Ann. XII.24). It is difficult to see what the "pomerium" is doing in that region if it is not following a wall a considerable distance away from the Palatine.4

This ancient gateway, if such it was, apparently arched the old Via Ostiensis and was therefore not disturbed for centuries, though the new gateway of the Aventine wall, the Porta Trigemina, became the entrance to the city. In Augustus' day of course the embankment was regulated in this district, the docks enlarged below and above the Porta, and presumably the street was resurveyed to the new plans. Then the archway was abandoned and used for other purposes, as is proved by the reticulate masonry found about it.

Perhaps after the long succession of arguments presented by latterday skeptics it requires a word of explanation to justify one's still having faith in a Servian wall, that is to say, a wall of stone built before the republic around the city of the four regions. p177I am inclined to think that the best confutation of these arguments would consist in a week's open-minded observation in the museum of the Villa Giulia. That at least drives home the conviction that during the last dozen years we have failed to do justice to the power and splendor of the Rome of the sixth century B.C. Not only was Rome then mistress of a richer territory than any Etruscan city, but even many of her subject cities like Velitrae, Satricum, and Lanuvium possessed works of art that would have pleased the Athenians of that day. To be sure, the fifth century lost her much of this splendor, and the fourth century more than once threatened to annihilate her, but the sixth century city possessed both the wealth and the ability requisite for such a work. Veii, a less powerful city, had massive walls at that period as excavations are now proving, and Signia, a colony of Rome, was more strongly fortified than the most boastful page of Livy would claim for Rome. If Rome had not had a strong wall before the fifth century, then at least one must have been built, for then the Aequi and Volsci took half her domain and seized the strategic positions on the Alban hills whence they could march to the gates of Rome in a few hours. Veii too, with which there was a constant feud, lay only four hours distant. A strong wall was then essential to her existence.

The arguments that have carried the day for the skeptics are hardly valid. It was not a plausible procedure to belittle the sixth century city because the fourth century city was demonstrably weak. It was hardly worth constant repetition that the Gauls could not have taken Rome so rapidly if she had been fortified: we do not know the circumstances of the capture. Finally, the arguments of Pinza,5 based upon a few relatively late tombs found inside the cincture of the walls, do not prove much. Indeed we do not actually know where the pomerium was, for recent excavations have revealed at least three diverse walls of different periods along a part of the Quirinal hill.6 It may even be that after the expulsion of the Etruscans the Romans lost interest in an institution primarily foreign and temporarily disregarded it for strategic or economic reasons. It is not very likely that the military authorities who then had to adapt the fortifications of the city against new enemies and new methods of attack kept religiously to the line once drawn by an Etruscan p178augur. We cannot even be sure that burial within the walls would be wholly avoided under such circumstances. There are accordingly no firm arguments against the tradition of a sixth or seventh century wall, whereas a consideration of political circumstances strongly supports it.

B. — The Arches in the Wall. Τειχῶν ἐπισκευεῖς ὠχύρουν καὶ μηχανήματα ἐφίστανον. Appian, Bell. Civ. I.66.

The prominent section of the wall upon the Aventine7 is full of curiosities that have enticed many to attempt interpretations. Most of the stone is of the yellow granular variety cut in large blocks that vary from 52 to 60 centimeters in height, and probably belong to the original Aventine wall. However, there was later a rebuilding in thin white mortar with an addition of some brown tufa blocks that are bossed in a late manner. The wall is partly set in and supported by concrete which dates from the time of the rebuilding, as is shown by the manner in which it fills the cavities beneath protruding blocks. The most striking peculiarity is the arch 3.55 m (12 Roman feet) wide, and half as high, the sill of which was 34 feet above the foot of the wall when Middleton measured it. Platner does not think that the arch has anything to do with the wall, but Middleton's judgment is that it has "every sign of being contemporaneous with the rest of the wall." Middleton is probably right, for the same white lime seems to be used in both parts, the arch does not seem to break into the masonry of the wall, and, what seems to me conclusive, a peculiar fine brown tufa with greenish spots that I have found in situ in only one narrow stratum of Monte Verde occurs in all three parts mentioned, that is, in the arch and in the concrete, as well as in the main wall.

This characteristic tufa, if studied with care, may prove a valuable criterion for purposes of chronology. Without an opportunity to carry observations farther I can only give my present impression that it is usually found in buildings which date between 120 and 60 B.C. The use of the concrete without reticulate facing would indicate the same general period, while the concrete itself (large lumps thrown loosely into very friable mortar made, probably, from the gritty Tiber-sand nearby) answers to the description of pre-Sullan concretes given in Miss p179Van Deman's analytical list.8 All this agrees excellently with the statement of Appian under date of 87 B.C. that the senatorial party facing an attack upon the city by the forces of Cinna and Marius "fortified the city with trenches, repaired the walls, and planted engines on them" (Bell. Civ. I, 66). It may well be then that this fragment is a portion of the restoration to which Appian has reference, and furthermore that the arch was intended for the use of the artillery9 to which he refers.

We know of two other arches at least which may have served the same purpose as the one on the Aventine. In the courtyard of the Palazzo Antonelli which opens upon the Piazza Magnanapoli there is also a portion of the "Servian wall" which contains an unexplained arch.10 Here, too, a wall of yellow granular tufa has been rebuilt with the aid of a stronger tufa, a stone of which I have not yet learned the source, but which resembles that of the inner walls of the Tabularium. This, then, like the Aventine arch, is a later addition of that wall, and the later stones show traces of bossing as do many of those on the Aventine. Unfortunately I did not have access to the concrete below the base which might settle the date of the reconstruction.a

Finally Comm. Boni found the disjecta membra of an arch built into a late reconstruction of the wall near the railway station (Not. Scav. 1910, p499). Though the arch was destroyed and even the remains of it are now gone, yet from his incidental remark that these blocks were better preserved than the rest, from the measurements which he gives, and from the proximity to an important gateway, we may conclude that the arch probably resembled that of the Aventine in style, date, and purpose. Perhaps we are justified then in supposing that the repairs to which Appian refers consisted in reërecting fallen portions of the wall, replacing weak blocks with harder ones, buttressing thin spots with concrete, and on the flanks of gateways setting in engines of defence which were to be manipulated through arched openings. It may be in place to add the suggestion that the p180famous moat mentioned by Dionysius, which some excavators find, while others fail to do so, may in part be the work referred to by Appian in this passage.

C. — Repairs during the Civil Wars. Nihil absurdius; urbem tu relinquas! Cicero, ad Att. VII, 11, 3.

There followed a season of civil war when Rome could hardly have allowed weaknesses in the ramparts to remain for long. Sulla's return in 84 B.C. was surely anticipated; when Cicero forced Catiline out in 63 he doubtless took every effective measure to keep him out; and though we do not hear about it in our fragmentary reports, we may be sure that Pompey and the senate buttressed11 every lax point before Caesar crossed the Rubicon — for, whatever Pompey's purpose may have been, the senators had no intention of abandoning the city until compelled. The astonishment of Cicero at Pompey's withdrawal indicates that the city was generally supposed to be defensible (ad Att. VII, 11, 3). There is indeed a curious piece of unexplained construction which I am prone to attribute to this very time. It is opposite the railway station near the Via Volturno and was hastily described in the B. Com. Rom. 1875, p171, and somewhat inaccurately sketched on Plate XVIII of the same number (upper left-hand corner).12 Referring to the fragment marked C1, Lanciani reports that the opus quadratum served as a support for a wall of reticulate work, whose purpose, however, he does not discuss. Indeed that concrete wall with its reticulate backing and stone front (Lanciani found about another meter of tufa blocks) measured at least 17 feet through, a wall that could not be used for any building imaginable in this region at the time this wall was made. Apparently the whole structure is a tower or a portion of a strongly reënforced wall of the main ramparts. What we actually have is this: the usual wall of granular yellow tufa 2.40 m thick, then a vacant space of 0.80‑0.90 m, then a concrete wall 3.80 m thick, lined on the outside with a row of large tufa blocks which, as said above, continued at least one meter farther out when first found.

The mortar is of the gray unclean kind that is usually found p181before good pozzolanas were used, that is to say, in the Republic; while the use of the reticulate work — probably introduced by Pompey's architects — gives us a date post quem. Though the cubes (10‑13 cm) are larger than is usual in fine work of this period it may well be that considerations of haste adequately account for this fact. At any rate it is difficult to find a period after Philippi when such massive defences could have been needed. We probably have here a tower built at a weak spot of the wall near the Viminal gate in the year 50 B.C. against Caesar's coming. Or perhaps work of this kind extended all the way along that very critical portion between the Colline and Viminal gateways, for Lanciani's first plan (l.c. pl. III) reveals several fragments of unusually thick wall which do not seem to appear on the later Plate XVIII. Of course the towers of mixed construction nearer the Viminal gate are also of relatively late work and may possibly date in the main from this same period, but that difficult problem must be left to the specialist. The data for its complete solution are not yet at hand.

D. — On the Source of Building Materials. Sunt aliae molles lapidicinae uti . . . Rubrae, Pallenses, Fidenates, etc. Vitruvius, II.7

The most prominent parts of the Servian wall, as we have it, consist of large blocks of yellowish granular tufa which archaeologists persist in reporting from the quarries of the Aventine.13 The larger blocks of the Palatine walls consist partly of this and partly of a similar tufa permeated with black scoria, both of which Jordan (I, p172) reports from the Palatine itself. Delbrück (Hell. Bauten, II, p56) has similar statements. Many a vacation ramble about these hills failed to reveal either kind in the native strata; in fact neither variety, though accredited to the earliest structures, appeared anywhere in or immediately near Rome. This circumstance seemed so significant for the early history of Rome that I referred my queries to Comm. Verri, the acknowledged authority on Latian geology, who immediately identified my samples of yellow granular tufa as being native to the region of Grottascura14 beyond Prima Porta, and those containing scoria as coming from the Fidenae-Grottarossa quarries. It seems, indeed, that these materials, far from being a native p182stone, have no connection whatever with the products of the Alban volcanoes but belong to the tufas of the Sabatini craters. Later excursions disclosed the traces of ancient quarries up the Tiber both below and above Prima Porta, a most interesting grotto lying some two hundred yards north of the third kilometer stone beyond Prima Porta on the Tiber road. From this region, it seems, came the millions of cubic feet of stone for the "Servian wall" that was built with large blocks.

Now it is very strange that the Romans, neglecting those solid strata of strong tufa on the Capitoline, the Palatine, the Aventine, Monte Verde, and the banks of the Anio, went several miles up the Tiber for this mediocre material. No less interesting is the fact that the territory from which this material came belonged to Veii until the fourth century B.C. Surely these circumstances have some significance in determining the date of these old walls. The first impulse was of course to attribute the walls to the Etruscan princes who may have had the closest relations with Veii, and to cite in corroboration the famous "stele" of the Forum which consists of the very same Etruscan stone and bears an inscription that belongs approximately to the sixth century. But this solution is excluded by the masons' marks upon the blocks, which are assigned by the best paleographers to a later date, not to mention the fact that in one spot at least the blocks lie over a fourth century grave.15 The fifth century is excluded by the provenance of the stone. For considering the hostility of the Etruscans and of the Veians in particular between the regal period and the fall of Veii, considering also the state of Rome's public finances during that century, it hardly seems possible that Rome could have bargained for a thousand barges of cut stone for her defences during that period. This forces us to the conclusion that the whole cincture of opus quadratum of two-foot blocks was built after the Gallic fire, presumably during the period to which Livy (VII, 20.9)16 attributes extensive repairs.

p183 The source of the stone and the date of the work may suggest why the Romans went so far afield for the material.17 If those walls were built soon after the fall of Veii it is apparent that Rome had then not only recently acquired the new region with its open quarries along the Tiber but also a large body of prisoners of war, many of whom presumably knew how this stone needed to be worked. Indeed it is not impossible that some of these very blocks were taken bodily from Fidenae's walls when that city was punished.18

In this connection I should like to stress the timeliness as well as the practicability of making systematic observations on the provenance of the early Roman building materials. The need is very great. Roman archaeology is as yet almost helpless before the problems of early construction, and good scholars still date foundations on the Palatine several centuries apart. This is of course largely due to the almost insuperable complications of the problems. The building materials are so numerous and so varied in texture that the criterion of tool-work cannot be applied as simply as, for instance, in Sicily. The tools had to be adapted to a variety of needs. Again, Rome lay at a point when technical methods of North, South, and East met, so that the attempt to apply criteria of style in a systematic fashion has failed for the early period.19 However, when he must face such serious complications, the archaeologist cannot afford to neglect any criterion that may be of service. At least he deserves not p184to be misled by the numerous misstatements about the provenance of materials which now occur in the handbooks of topography. From the practical side we need of course the fullest possible list of ancient quarries of Rome and its vicinity with a careful description of their products. Then since many of these have been hidden by later building operations, the study of Rome's subsoil should be made with the use of a good geologist's map. Fortunately such a one now exists20 after the persistent work of a century.

Since this map, which will have a direct bearing upon many of our problems, is made for the geologist, employing petrological terms not generally used by archaeologists, it may be in place to give a very simple interpretation of its principal points by means of an outline sketch (Plate VII). From this it will be evident that the successive strata of Rome's subsoil, so far as they are visible, are these: (1) pre-volcanic clays and sands deposited in shallow water (example, clays at the foot of the Palatine behind S. Maria Antiqua); (2) the "lower tufas" formed from the earlier deposit of volcanic ash with a varying mixture of sandy alluvium (example, thirty feet of dark gray lamellar tufa, "cappellaccio," immediately above the clays behind S. Maria Antiqua); (3) the "lower pozzolana," the very valuable pozzolana which is generally dark red or dark violet with interstices of other ash (example, the pozzolana banks at the station of Salone, six miles east of the city. It does not appear where expected upon the Palatine, having been washed away before the next deposit was laid); (4) the "upper tufas," which usually appear as the solid cliff of reddish brown tufa in and about Rome (example, the thick stratum of reddish tufa on the Palatine, behind S. Teodoro); (5) Lacustrine deposits of shales and volcanic ash laid at the more recent eruptions when the site of Rome was a lake (found generally on all the hills).21


[image ALT: A geological map of Rome.]

Plate VII
Geological Outline Map of Rome.

(After Verri.)

p185 Of the strata that appear at Rome, the second and the fourth were most important in the Republic, and for the early period especially the second; for while the reddish brown tufa appears in the middle reaches of both the Capitoline and the Palatine, the dark gray lamellar stone of the second happened to crop out at surface level just where the Forum meets the Capitoline. Here it was that the first quarry was started in this easily-worked stone, and hence came, apparently, the foundations of the early temples of the Forum as well as of the Capitoline temple.22

Now we dare not assume that the second stratum invariably provides a usable tufa. Indeed its quality constantly varies. The very stratum which furnished the famous old quarry called Lautumiae under the Arx, whose quality may still be tested by the outcrop exposed at the Volcanal, runs out into a greenish marl in its southern course (see the cave behind Via della Consolazione, 70) and into a pebbly conglomerate immediately behind the new Monument on the north. However, the stratum could generally be counted upon to give a thickness of a few feet at least of the characteristic "cappellaccio"; and since the greater part of early Rome lay almost immediately upon this stratum, this fact is very significant. Indeed the burden of proof rests upon anyone who attributes any piece of wall which is not of this tufa, to the period preceding the Gallic fire. To be sure we have few direct reports of ancient quarries within the area. In addition to the lautumiae, Verri reports that builders have found numerous "cave" along the escarpment of the Quirinal,23 and Lanciani found an abandoned quarry with "cappellaccio" blocks half cut near Porta San Lorenzo,24 where even today this stone is exposed to view in an escarpment of about 15 feet. One does not readily find it exposed inside the city of course, but if any one desires to be convinced of the frequent solidity of the "cappellaccio" escarpment in the second stratum, he may notice it outside the building-area at the top of the ridge near Ponte Salaria, or behind S. Agnese, or near the cemetery, or in the Scipionic p186tombs where it appears somewhat darker than usual. So much for visual demonstration; the borings reported by Verri in the volume quoted prove the same thing, namely that in the second stratum solid escarpments of dark gray lamellar tufa must have jutted out here and there along the edges of all the inner hills of Rome.

The relation of the Servian pomerium to the outcrop of this gray stone is also significant. All along the side of the Quirinal, over the Viminal and Esquiline, and back along the Caelian (disregarding the pozzolana, which was not lithoid) the wall passed over the gray tufas; while behind the Capitoline and the Palatine this stone was not far to seek. This seems to explain why those portions of the Servian wall which are demonstrably earliest are invariably made of the dark gray tufa in low blocks. Very probably the whole wall of the regal period was made of this material.25

In comparing the technique used in this lamellar tufa with that of non-Roman construction it is well to keep in mind that it is a very strange stone, peculiar to Rome, and one that demands unconventional treatment. Since the strata did not always provide thick blocks, and since the stone flakes if the flat faces be exposed and crumbles if the edge lies upward exposed to rain, the mason was compelled to cut and lay it in flat slabs. Since the nature of the material so far determines the style it is very unsafe to conclude from the technique of these dark gray walls whether or not the Romans yet knew the technique of the Greeks.

Again it is very doubtful whether we can ascertain the dominant measure from these slabs, which indeed seem to run between 20 and 33 centimeters in height. The brown tufa blocks could be kept to a definite height since they had to be cut out completely. The flaky gray stone, on the other hand, with its horizontal cleavage was partly broken out in approximate sizes and dressed down to an average; but unless the mason was ready to sacrifice much good stone he would hardly dress all to a minimum level. Consequently, the courses are frequently uneven. It would be venturesome to try to determine from any fragment of wall now in existence whether the Italic or the Greek foot was used in the masonry of the dark gray tufa.26

p187 As we have seen, the yellow granular tufa from the Tiber displaced this poor stone for purposes of fortification after the Gallic fire. Even in the Forum the gray stone then fell out of favor except for underground work and at times when excavations into the stratum brought out a chance supply.

In the second century, however, the reddish brown tufa of the fourth stratum began to be used freely. Why the excellent deposit upon the Capitoline and Palatine hills had not been exploited early it is difficult to say, unless it be that by the time the gray stone fell into disfavor these hills were already too well occupied with buildings to permit the opening of new quarries there. The unusually thick stratum at Monte Verde was in use during the second century B.C., for the earliest concretes of Rome prove to contain some materials characteristic of this region.27 It was also popular in the early part of the last century of the republic, and many of the areas of the Forum, e.g. the Lacus Curtius and the Republican pavements near the lapis niger, are undoubtedly laid with this stone. In the late republic and in the time of Augustus the opus quadratum shows few blocks that are demonstrably from Monte Verde. It seems that the Anio had by this time become a great highway for Travertine and Gabine rock (Strabo, V.3.11) and so when the contractors needed red and brown tufa they drew upon the cliffs along this stream. The maze of galleries of these lapidicinae rubrae (Vitruvius, II.7) are still to be seen especially at Ponte di Cervara, a mile beyond Ponte Mammolo, and at the new bridge near Salone, where the stone is a very dark brown. These quarries, if I mistake not, are the source of the splendid blocks of the temple of Castor, the Basilica Aemilia, the new Rostra, the tufas of the Colosseum, and many other buildings. Today I find builders working over the rubbish heaps of those quarries picking over the fragments that were left by the ancient stone-cutters who dressed the massive blocks.

Of the other strata of stone little need be said. The third period supplied the excellent red and violet pozzolanas that are so much in demand today. On the hills nearest the Forum this ash was washed away before the eruptions of the fourth period, — a very thin sheet remaining at the north end of the Capitoline, — so that the Romans did not at once recognize its value. In the Empire, however, it was used extensively. The p188fifth period supplied little but clay deposits. However, upon the Palatine there is a late deposit of ash which appears as a fairly good gray lamellar tufa, and this was apparently used near the Scalae Caci for very early foundations and cistern-linings.

The pre-volcanic deposit now provides the popular clays for brick making in the pliocene shales behind the Vatican and elsewhere. To judge from the texture of the ancient bricks and the evidence of the stamps these shales were little used by the Romans. They seem rather to have made their splendid bricks from the alluvium of the Anio and of the Tiber whence even today the finest red tile of Rome is manufactured.28

These notes on the sources of materials are a mere beginning in a subject which cannot possibly be completed away from Rome, but I offer them as an introduction to others who may care to avoid the numerous false clews that have wasted me endless time. I am convinced that a study of the provenance of the stone will aid decidedly not only in clarifying the history of early Roman construction — and through that the history of early Roman art and culture — but also in defining much more precisely the chronology of the building operations of the last two centuries of the republic.

Tenney Frank

Bryn Mawr College,

Bryn Mawr, Pa.


The Author's Notes:

1 Cl. Phil. 1909, pp420 ff.

2 B. Com. Rom. 1888, p21.

3 The arco di grandi blocchi discovered may of course be a rebuilding of an older gateway in better material but of the same dimensions.

4 Piganiol, Mél. Arch. Hist. 1909, p132, is inclined to identify the arch with the "Porta Minucia" mentioned only by Festus. Though his proposed line for the "Servian wall" seems impossible, there is a peculiar coincidence between Tacitus' reference to the aereum tauri simulacrum and the note in Livy (IV.16.2) that Minucius bove aurato (= gilded horns) extra portam Trigeminam est donatus. Senator Lanciani in answer to an appeal for additional information wrote me: "As far as I can remember the arch discovered Aug. 1886 on the borderline of the f. boarium was built of that kind of grey tufa the quarries of which have been since discovered in the vigna Querini" i.e. "cappellaccio," cf. B. Com. Rom. 1872, p6. If this be so, the arch ought to be dated before the Gallic fire. It is a pity that Delbrück did not discuss this structure in his general treatment of early arches (Hellenistische Bauten, II, pp60 ff.). It might have saved him from an untenable position. What a misfortune too, that no photograph or drawing was made of what seems to have been among the most interesting architectural fragments of Republican construction.

5 Restated in B. Com. Rom. 1912, p85.

6 Not. Scav. 1907, p505; Graffunder in Pauly-Wissowa s.v. Rom, 1026.

7 Illustrated in Platner, p113; Middleton, I, 140, — who saw a part of a second arch; Graffunder, Klio, 1911, p89.

8 Van Deman, A.J.A. 1912, p245.

9 Parker, Hills of Rome, pl. XXI, says of this arch that "it is supposed to have served as an embrasure for a catapult." He does not refer to Appian and he supposes that the structure dates from Hannibalic days, which is of course impossible.

10 See B. Com. Rom. 1876, p36; Jordan, I, p209; Graffunder, Klio, 1911, p101; Delbrück, Hell. Bauten, II, p60.

11 City walls were rebuilt throughout Italy about this time, cf CIL IX.6238‑9, 6242, 291, 937; IX.2171, 2235.

12 In fact the earlier plan (pl. III), though less complete, is more accurate for this portion.

13 See, e.g. Graffunder, Klio, 1911, p91.

14 He implies as much in Boll. Soc. Geol. Ital. 1911, p271.

15 Boni, Not. Scav. 1910, pp500 ff.

16 The famous old walls at the southwest corner of the Palatine, both the narrow exterior one which mounts to the very top and the two portions which run parallel to the Clivus Victoriae, probably date from this same period. The first mentioned consists entirely of the blocks which contain scoria, the other two portions are partly of scoriated stone, partly of the yellowish gray variety. It is very interesting to find that the earliest walls of Ostia, which are now generally dated in the late fourth century, also consist of this scoriated stone found near Fidenae. I may add that when Vitruvius (II.7) speaks of (lapidicinae) Fidenates he probably does not refer to the quarries of scoriated tufa on the very site of Fidenae, for that miserable stone apparently went out of use long before the end of the republic. He seems rather to refer to the yellowish-gray tufa which was still quarried in the early empire, particularly for the making of light-weight concretes used in domes and vaults. Since Fidenae was the nearest municipality to these quarries, the name was sufficiently appropriate. Indeed I would suggest that we henceforth call this well-known yellow-gray tufa of the "Servian wall" "Fidenate."

17 Comm. Verri suggests that the native reddish-brown stone was too full of arbitrary breaks to lend itself readily to the cutting of large blocks. However, the Romans seem to have used it freely for such work later, as for instance in the podia of the temples of Castor, of Concord, and of Divus Julius. Furthermore at the ancient quarries along the Anio there are still to be seen immense cliffs of the material without a single rift.

18 See Macrobius, III.9.13.

19 E.g. Delbrück, Der Apollotempel. The wall which he dates 431 B.C. contains much stone which was not used before the second century. The correct date is probably 179 B.C. Cf. Livy, XL.51.3. I shall return to this problem later.

20 A. Verri, Carta Geologica di Roma, 1915. The pamphlet contains 56 pages of notes and explanations. The maps of Latium in the old geological survey were largely based upon an erroneous theory. The map of the campagna in Sabatini, Vulcano Laziale, 1900, is useful in some respects but still vitiated by the same errors. A good article is Verri, 'Origine et Trasformazione della Campagna di Roma' in Boll. Soc. Geol. Ital. 1911, with bibliography.

21 Besides these regular strata on the site of Rome, the student occasionally meets with some other familiar rocks. The poor travertines on the Aventine, and beyond the Pincian, which were used only for lime, were deposited by springs during the second period. The lava ridge, on which the Appian Way runs and which furnished Rome much of its selce, formed during the fifth period, as did the peperino of Marino and of Gabii. There are also the yellow granular and the scoriated tufas of the Sabatine system mentioned above, and the familiar travertine deposited by the hot springs below Tivoli.

22 The fifth period again deposited a similar stone, but this later stratum was hardly deep enough upon the Capitoline to be of service.

23 See 'Il Colle Quirinale' in Boll. Soc. Geol. Ital. 1908.

24 B. Com. Rom. 1872, p6.

25 I do not hold, however, that every grey flat block now found in the Servian wall dates from the sixth century. Much of this stone was redressed and reset inside the agger after the Gallic fire.

26 Viedebantt, Arch. Anz. 1914, col. 75, suggests plausibly that the Etruscans and the early Romans may have used the Egyptian foot of 35 cm.

27 E.g. the oldest concrete of the Temple of Concord.

28 At Tor di Quinto, for instance.


Thayer's Note:

a For a recent photo of this arch, commentary, and further references, see the article Porta Fontinalis in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 22 Jan 09