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A Web transcription of
The Roman Forum — Its History and Its Monuments

by Christian Hülsen

published by Ermanno Loescher & Co
Publishers to H. M. the Queen of Italy
1906

Text, maps, and black-and‑white images
are in the public domain.
Color photos are © William P. Thayer.

A Virtual Tour of the Forum, by an Expert


[image ALT: A wide expanse of ruins in the midst of a modern city. Among the ruins, tall columned sections. It is a view of the Forum in Rome.]

The Roman Forum: the most crowded deserted place in the world.

Filippo Coarelli, prefacing a 1982 republication of Hülsen's book, wrote: "To republish, nearly eighty years after its first appearance, a book on the Roman Forum might seem to be a useless or even outright wrongheaded enterprise. So long a time non dovrebbe essere trascorso senza portare sostanziali progressi perfino in un campo di studi come la topografia di Roma antica, che certo non rappresenta il settore di punta nell' ambito delle scienze dell' antichità. Che non sia questo il caso invece chiunque dovrà convenire a lettura ultimata del presente libretto. This is basically due to two reasons: the end of the major excavations in the Forum after the early 1900's and the corresponding decline in studies of Roman topography in the decades between the two world wars. The historical and archaeological interpretation of the Roman Forum thus remains today substantially what it was at the beginning of the century. . . ."

For my part, since I am neither an archaeologist nor an expert in Roman antiquity, I would merely add that the gentle reader, desirous of retracing onsite our author's footsteps, will be unable to do so: under the pressure of today's millions of visitors, the authorities have barred access to very many areas of the Forum, to the point that the bulk of it has now become inaccessible to us mere layfolk: we find ourselves channelled along the Sacra Via with sad, ugly metal barriers on either side of us. (They call this "returning the Via Sacra to the people", but looking at that claim would take us too far for our present purposes.)

Thus the virtual tour proposed here, conducted by a guide who was intimately involved in the excavations of the Forum, is better, in some respects, than the actual visit of the site: for example, Hülsen's maps and reconstructions, often very beautiful — there are about forty of them — provide a better understanding of the main monuments better than any unaccompanied walk. (It's true that the 1906 photos are not up to the level we're used to in the twenty-first century: I'll be keeping them, but have also added some of my own here and there.)

Here then is Hülsen's text:

Table of Contents

Preface
I. Cenni Storici.
I. The Roman Forum in Antiquity
II. Il Foro nel medio evo
II. L' esplorazione scientifica del Foro dal secolo XV al secolo XX
II. I Monumenti del Foro.
I. Basilica Julia
II. The Arch of Tiberius
III. The Schola Xantha
IV. The so‑called 'Rostri cesarei'
V. The Rostra
VI. Temple of Saturn
VII. Milliarium Aureum
VIII. Umbilicus Urbis Romae
IX. Volcanal
X. Arch of Severus
XI. Porticus Deorum Consentium
XII. Templum Vespasiani et Titi
XIII. Templum Concordiae
XIV. Column of Phocas
XV. Monuments of Diocletian and Honorius
XVI. Marble Balustrades of Trajan (Anaglypha)
XVII. The Lapis Niger and the Grave of Romulus
XVIII. Comitium
XIX. Curia Iulia
XX. Carcer
XXI. Basilica Aemilia
XXII. Sacellum Cloacinae
XXIII. Area centrale del Foro
XXIV. Templum Divi Iuli
XXV. Arcus Augusti
XXVI. Templum Castorum
XXVII. Lacus Iuturnae
XXVIII. Oratorio dei quaranta Martiri
XXIX. S. Maria Antiqua. Bibliotheca templi Divi Augusti
XXX. Templum Divi Augusti
XXXI. The Regia
XXXII. The Temple of Vesta
XXXIII. The House of the Vestals
La Sacra Via
XXXIV. Templum Antonini et Faustinae
XXXV. Sepulcretum
XXXVI. Edifizi privati sulla Sacra Via
XXXVII. Fornix Fabianus
XXXVIII. Templum Divi Romuli
XXXIX. Il cosidetto Templum Sacrae Urbis
XL. Clivus Sacer
XLI. Basilica Constantini
XLII. Templum Veneris et Romae
XLIII. Arcus Titi
XLIV. Templum Iovis Statoris
Figure nel testo

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