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Rome Trajan's Forum and Column built with Dacian Gold,  Tropheum Trajani- Adamclisi, Romania


 File:Italien Rom Trajansaeule sb1.JPG 

"And he set up in the Forum an enormous column, to serve at once as a monument to himself and as a memorial of his work in the Forum. For that entire section had been hilly and he had cut it down for a distance equal to the height of the column, thus making the Forum level."

Cassius Dio, Roman History (LXVIII.16.3)

"But when he came to the Forum of Trajan, a creation which in my view has no like under the cope of heaven and which even the gods themselves must agree to admire, he stood transfixed with astonishment, surveying the giant fabric around him; its grandeur defies description and can never again be approached by mortal men."

Ammianus Marcellinus (XVI.10.15)

The wonderment of the emperor Constantius II when he first visited Rome in AD 357 is understandable. The last and most magnificent of the imperial fora, the Forum of Trajan (or, later, Forum Ulpium, from Ulpius, Trajan's family name) was constructed under the direction of the architect Apollodorus, who sought to surpass all that had gone before, the plan and scale (and lines of trees) from the Temple of Peace, its colonnades and hemicycles improving upon the Forum of Augustus, the curved ends taken from the Forum Transitorium, and the Basilica Ulpia larger and more fine than those of Aemilia and Julia. So was the past, both architecturally and politically, continued and commemorated. By the time Constantius visited, the Forum Trajani had existed for almost two-and-a-half centuries and the capitol of the empire had shifted to Constantinople. And yet, however faded, its visual effect still was a profound expression of Rome's former grandeur.

Initiated by Domitian (Aurelius Victor, XIII.5), who began to clear the area as part of a larger plan to integrate the forum with its predecessors (which included the Forum Transitorium that subsequently was dedicated by Nerva), work halted with the emperor's assassination and damnatio in AD 96. Construction was renewed after Trajan's victorious return from Dacia (Romania) in AD 106-107, funded by the spoils of that war (and perhaps to coincide with his decennalia). Too, Domitian's own building projects may have depleted the treasury. Indeed, says Suetonius (Life, XIII.2), "He erected so many and such huge vaulted passage-ways and arches in the various regions of the city, adorned with chariots and triumphal emblems, that on one of them someone wrote in Greek: 'It is enough.'"

The forum comprises two parts: a large public square or piazza (Area Fori), flanked by colonnades and closed at one end by a perimeter wall and at the other by the Basilica Ulpia, which effectively divided this part of the forum (which was dedicated on January 1, AD 112), from the Column of Trajan and libraries that were hidden behind it and from the Temple of Divine Trajan, all of which may have been a later creation of Hadrian, himself.

The forum constantly revealed itself to the visitor, the colonnades hiding the hemicycles behind them, as well as the apses of the basilica, which, in turn, hid the libraries and most of the column. The temple, itself, could only be seen only after one had come to the peristyle around the column. There is, then, a sense of unfolding surprises, with each perspective revealing something new.

Curved around the eastern hemicycle (exedra) of the forum was Trajan's Markets, a complex of offices or possibly shops displaced by construction of the forum.



References: Trajan Optimus Princeps: A Life and Times (1997) by Julian Bennett; The Architecture of Roman Temples: The Republic to the Middle Empire (2005) by John W. Stamper; Ammianus Marcellinus: The Later Roman Empire (1986) translated by Walter Hamilton (Penguin Classics); Pausanius: Description of Greece (1926) translated by W. H. S. Jones (Loeb Classical Library).

The Forum of Trajan in Rome: A Study of the Monuments in Brief (2001) by James E. Packer is an abridgement of the author's original three-volume study, which was published in 1997 and costs $675. The paperback edition has allowed for some revisions of the original restorations, including three-dimensional models, and surely must be one of the great bargains in book publishing.

  There are three quick sources to study Trajan's Column as well as the Two Dacian Wars illustrated by it, two at the magnificent website of Bill Thayer: LacusCurtius

  1. Trajan's Column: A Record of the Dacian Campaign and a Monument to Logistics by Bill Thayer


 [image ALT: zzz]

 You are facing NW and looking at the column from ground level in the Basilica Ulpia to the SE of it. If the column were transparent, you would be pretty much looking down the Via Flaminia towards the Milvian Bridge: in Roman times, that road would take you to Umbria and finally the Adriatic coast at Fano and Rimini.

The Forum Romanum is offscreen, somewhat behind you, to your left. Trajan's Markets are a few steps to your right and a bit behind you as well. Between them, straight behind you, the Imperial Fora.

For information about the statue at the top, click anywhere on the platform or higher; or here.

For a full-height view of the column from the steps up to the Largo Magnanapoli to the NE, click on the sky to the right (NE) of it, or here.

The base of the column — click anywhere on it — or here — is a sort of gallery of military dress and armor.
[ 1 page, 6 images: some are particularly good ]

Most of the photos here, however, are of the reliefs that spiral up the column itself. I took two sets of pictures; one up the SW face and one up the NE face; clicking anywhere on the column (or on the numbers in the margins, which indicate the registers shown) will send you to a large detailed photo of that area in another window. For now, just the pictures; I do hope to provide text fairly soon, though. For one thing, there's Apollodorus's bridge somewhere in all this stone, and that surely deserves commentary.
[ 25 images: bullets • indicate those where you can zoom in even further ]

Click on the modern buildings in the picture, or here, for the full original of this photo, showing the column somewhat larger and in context, between the churches of S. Maria di Loreto and SS. Nome di Maria.

Finally, a few stray photos haven't got linked yet to the map above; among which this clear shot of two men loading barrels onto a boat.


 Trajan's Column Depicting Scenes From The Dacian Wars Roman 2nd century CE (14) by mharrsch.

Trajan's Column Depicting Scenes From The Dacian Wars Roman 2nd century CE (14) ;


Around the year 1574, a Spanish monk, named Alphonso CIACCONE, was depicting in premiere APOLLODORUS FROM DAMASCUS' SCULPTED BAS-RELIEFS ON TRAJAN'S COLUMN IN ROME, that deal with scenes from the above named Emperor's two military campaigns versus Dacian Land (101-102 A.D., followed by 105-106 A.D.).

Trajan's Column / Dacian Wars Romanian History Dacians

A Web-enhanced version of

2. 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-

Table of Contents

94 Distribution of Cornº to the Legionaries

3.  Trajan's Column, Cartoon indices with descriptions and detailed photos at:

More pictures at: 


           Printre scenele conþinând imagini ale geto-dacilor de dupã cucerire sunt scena LXXVI conþinând o reprezentare de la sfârºitul primului rãzboi dacic (a.102) în care este redatã o scenã campestrã conþinând un grup de daci care se îndreaptã spre o cetate dacicã, grup format din bãtrâni, femei ºi copii, urmaþi de animale domestice (boi, vaci, oi, capre), unele în mers, altele culcate pe iarbã, grup în centrul cãruia se disting un bãtrân care þine de mânã un bãiat ºi altul care poartã un copil pe umeri; o mamã cu doi copii ºi cu al treilea în braþe; alte douã femei având copii cu ele; una ducându-ºi pruncul în braþe, iar cealaltã pe cap, înfãºurat în scutece ºi aºezat într-un fel de leagãn-albie. În acelaºi timp, în planul din stânga sunt redaþi bãrbaþi daci dãrâmând un zid de piatrã, simbolizând demolarea cetãþilor greceºti, prevãzutã în condiþiile pãcii. Scena a fost interpretatã ca simbolizând întoarcerea dacilor împreunã cu turmele lor în regiunile de unde fugiserã din cauza rãzboiului, reluarea cursului normal al vieþii în mediul rural-pãstoresc, dupã încetarea luptelor ºi încheierea pãcii cu romanii[145]. Scenele CLVI/CLV conþinând o reprezentare de la sfârºitul celui de-al doilea rãzboi dacic (a.106) în care este redatã o scenã conþinând în partea din stânga un grup de soldaþi romani mergând spre dreapta, lãsând în urma lor o cetate dacicã incendiatã. În faþa lor se aflã femei, copii ºi bãrbaþi daci, însoþindu-ºi turmele care pasc liniºtit. Unii dintre daci se uitã înapoi, iar alþii poartã arme[146], a fost interpretatã în sensul cã militarii romani din scenele în discuþie reprezintã trupe care s-au întors la bazele lor, dupã îndeplinirea misiunii, iar dacii din aceeaºi figuraþie nu sunt decât amici ai romanilor refugiaþi în munþi, de unde, dupã moartea lui Decebal ºi victoria finalã romanã, revin la casele lor sau în sensul cã se redã plastic nu plecarea populaþiei dacice din provincie, nici întoarcerea ei din munþi acasã, ci evacuarea bãºtinaºilor din regiunea Munþilor Orãºtiei în alte zone ale Daciei romane, mai uºor de supravegheat, spre a preîntâmpina eventuale regrupãri sau revolte ale dacilor[147].
           Aceste scene au fost tãlmãcite în sensul întoarcerii populaþiei acasã, dupã ce urgia rãzboiului a trecut sau a evacuãrii ei din zona muntoasã a Orãºtiei ºi aºezarea la ºes, în spaþiul noii provincii romane.
          O serie de reliefuri de pe Columnã indicã supunerea populaþiei dacice dupã primul rãzboi. Astfel, în scenele XXVII-XXVIII, Traian, asistat de statul sãu major, primeºte în timpul primului rãzboi o solie dacicã formatã din oameni de rând (comati) care vin sã cearã pace ºi îndurare[148]. În scena XXXVII, un mare grup de daci, oameni simpli ºi nobili, bãrbaþi, femei, copii ºi bãtrâni se supun împãratului care le aratã bunãvoinþã ºi clemenþã[149]. În scena XLVI doi comati cer îndurare lui Traian[150], iar în scena LII o delegaþie de daci duce tratative cu romanii[151]. În scena LXI, în timpul unei lupte, un nobil dac este înfãþiºat aruncându-ºi scutul ºi îngenunchind în faþa împãratului[152], iar în scena LXVI doi pileati cer iertarea, unul sãrutând mâna împãratului[153]. Scena LXXV este consideratã a reprezenta capitularea dacilor la sfârºitul rãzboiului[154], iar în scena LXXVI, populaþia se întoarce la vetrele pãrãsite în timpul ºi din pricina rãzboiului[155].
           Scene cu închinãri dupã cel de-al doilea rãzboi sunt considerate a fi scena XC-XCI, în care un numeros grup de comati se închinã împãratului[156] scena C, în care împãratul duce tratative cu o solie daco-bastarnã[157], scena CXVIII, în care împãratul primeºte implorarea unui pileatus[158], scena CXLI, în care o mulþime paºnicã de comati sau grupuri de nobili ºi nobili împreunã cu oameni de rând cer iertare ºi îngenuncheazã înaintea împãratului[159].
          ªi pe Columna lui Traian numeroase scene redau supunerea populaþiei dacice (bãrbaþi, femei, copii sau nobili ºi oameni de rând) în faþa împãratului ºi a oºtilor romane. Faþã de mulþimea care se supune, cuceritorii manifestã clemenþã ºi înþelegere. Nicãieri nu se vãd scene cu acte de cruzime sau masacre ale populaþiei[160]. Nu apar scene de expulzare ºi deportare a dacilor din þara lor ºi nici tablouri de exterminare a populaþiei civile care s-a predat învingãtorului[161]. Columna lui Traian ne redã o serie de scene care pot fi interpretate cu toatã certitudinea în favoarea continuitãþii populaþiei autohtone: grupuri de daci, cu nobilii lor, supunându-se lui Traian, alþii cu tot avutul lor în miºcare - fie cã se întorc la casele lor dupã încetarea rãzboiului, fie cã sunt aºezaþi de autoritãþile romane în alte locuri[162]. Chiar scenele finale ale Columnei lui Traian (CLIV-CLV) prezintã un grup de daci escortaþi de soldaþi romani, probabil pentru a-i reaºeza în teritoriile castrelor ca forþã de muncã aservitã[163]. Anumite scene controversate de pe Columna lui Traian, departe de a simboliza plecarea populaþiei dacice din þara sa de baºtinã, aratã de fapt întoarcerea acasã dupã terminarea ostilitãþilor sau poate, mutarea ei forþatã din zonele muntoase în regiunile mai uºor de controlat de cãtre autoritãþile civile ºi militare romane, clemenþa împãratului ºi a armatei romane victorioase faþã de cei învinºi[164].
          Dacã nu mai existã îndoieli privind supravieþuirea dacilor dupã cucerirea romanã, se poate pune întrebarea care anume parte din aceastã populaþie a putut supravieþui - parte în sens cantitativ ºi calitativ. Chiar în condiþiile lipsei complete a surselor privitoare la pierderile suferite de daci în cursul celor douã rãzboaie ale lui Traian, am avea tot dreptul sã afirmãm cã luptele sângeroase ºi de lungã duratã nu puteau sã nu se rãsfrângã asupra raporturilor demografice ale populaþiei autohtone. Se ºtie cã un efect direct al rãzboaielor este creºterea mortalitãþii printre bãrbaþi-rãzboinici, iar pe de altã parte absenþa lor îndelungatã de acasã determinã scãderea numãrului de cãsãtorii contractate, toate acestea ducând la scãderea bruscã a numãrului de naºteri. Rãzboaiele favorizeazã apariþia ºi rãspândirea bolilor ºi epidemiilor ºi sunt însoþite de obicei de migrãri ale populaþiei, a cãror scarã ºi intensitate sunt foarte variate, care exercitã totodatã o influenþã considerabilã asupra scãderii numãrului de naºteri ºi asupra creºterii mortalitãþii[165]. Coroborarea informaþiilor provenind de la Criton (cei 50 000 de prizonieri daci[166], ca ºi cei 40 de bãrbaþi rãmaºi în viaþã în Dacia) cu cele de la Eutropius referitoare la secãtuirea Daciei de cãtre bãrbaþi ar conduce la concluzia cã în urma operaþiunilor militare, iar mai târziu datoritã unei acþiuni planificate de exterminare ºi de transformare în sclavi, Dacia a fost într-adevãr secãtuitã de bãrbaþi, înþelegând prin aceºtia persoanele de sex bãrbãtesc apte de a purta arme[167]. Sunt invocate în legãturã cu politica foarte durã a Romei faþã de populaþiile care se revoltau prea des sau recurgeau la acþiuni perfide douã texte în care se precizeazã cã faþã de cei în cauzã era aplicatã pedeapsa vânzãrii prizonierilor cu condiþia sã fie vânduþi ca sclavi departe de patria lor[168]. S-ar fi putut lua desigur mãsuri pentru masacrarea sau transformarea în sclavi a întregii populaþii, dar ar fi fost vorba de o acþiune dificilã ºi nu neapãrat necesarã, fiind suficientã înlãturarea din societatea geto-dacicã a acelei pãrþi a populaþiei care constituia cel mai mare pericol potenþial - bãrbaþii apþi de a purta arme, deci circa 1/4 din totalul populaþiei. În acest sens, în primii ani dupã cucerire, adolescenþii din populaþia autohtonã care atingeau vârsta adultã erau înlãturaþi în mod sistematic de pe teritoriul provinciei, în timpul domniilor lui Traian ºi Hadrian fiind formate cel puþin trei unitãþi din armata auxiliarã ala I Ulpia Dacorum, care staþiona în Cappadocia, cohors I Ulpia Dacorum, care staþiona în Siria ºi cohors I Aelia Dacorum din Britannia, pentru care recrutarea se fãcea pe teritoriul Daciei[169]. Se poate admite ca valabilã ipoteza cã în urma tuturor acestor acþiuni pe teritoriul provinciei din populaþia autohtonã au rãmas mai ales copii, femei ºi bãtrâni, chiar ºi aceastã populaþie fiind expusã la dislocãri masive[170]. Distrugerea populaþiei cucerite nu poate fi consideratã o soluþie, autorii antici[171] subliniind faptul cã autohtonii nu erau exterminaþi, ci învãþaþi sã utilizeze teritoriul pe care-l stãpâniserã în favoarea statului roman, fapt pentru care se putea recurge uneori ºi la deplasãri de populaþii în zone mai uºor de supravegheat[172]. S-ar putea considera cã Traian nu a urmãrit exterminarea dacilor, aºa cum nici Caesar nu a intenþionat dispariþia galilor, Augustus pe cea a dalmatilor ºi pannonicilor, iar Claudius pe cea a bretonilor, aceste populaþii supuse imperiului reprezentând o sursã de forþã militarã, forþã de muncã ºi contribuabili[173





Trajan's forum and markets (Apollodorus)


Imperial fora

Model of the Imperial Fora, marking the Basilica Ulpia, Forum of Trajan, Forum of Julius Caesar, Forum of Nerva, Markets of Trajan, Forum of Augustus, and Forum of Vespasian (Forum of Peace).

Plan of the Basilica Ulpia

Restored interior view of the Basilica Ulpia in the Forum of Trajan, Rome.

Trajan's column

Column of Trajan, Rome, detail of the lowest four bands. Scenes show Trajan's army crossing the Danube and constructing battlefield headquarters.

Trajan's Column: A portion depicting Roman soldiers building a wooden palisade at the seige of Sarmizethusa, the capital of the Dacian cheif Decebalus. The entire column, celebrating Trajan's conquests in Dacia, was dedicated in A.D. 113 and stands 95 feet (29 m).

Trajan's Column. Detail of scene 37, Lustration of the camp.

View of the Markets of Trajan, including the numerous exedrae used as traders' stalls.

Axonometric reconstruction of Trajan's Markets. Numbers indicate the following items:1. Covered shopping arcade2. Apartment block3. Stair case4. Stair case5. Street6. Exhedra of Trajan's Forum

Markets of Trajan, Rome: the main hall. Made of brick-faced concrete, with only some detailing in stone and wood, in compliance with a building code that was put into effect after AD 64.



 Life in Rome


 Beginning with the Emperor Augustus' reign in 27 B.C.E., the Roman Empire enjoyed what is called the Pax Romana, or "Peace of Rome" - a period of governmental and social stability that lasted over 200 years. During the Pax Romana, the empire expanded in territory and flourished economically. At its height, under the emperor Hadrian circa 125 C.E., the Roman Empire stretched from the north of England 2,500 miles south, through present-day Spain, France, Holland, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq. The Roman army secured these frontiers and protected the trade routes within them from invasion. Unique and exotic trade goods such as silk, perfumes, bejeweled weapons, and musical instruments from the far corners of the empire were for sale in the Roman street markets.
This increase in trade brought great wealth to Rome and funded massive building projects. Funds were available for developing public services such as fire brigades and healthcare centers. Money was also spent on lavish parades celebrating the successes of the Roman armies, elaborate theatrical productions, and Olympic-style festivals of athletic games honoring Roman Gods and Goddesses.
In direct contrast to the trappings of this flourishing society, the poor made up the majority of Rome's population. They lived in
squalid conditions in neighborhoods where disease and crime were prevalent, performed back-breaking jobs for inadequate pay, and has little time and money for leisure activities. Most children of the Roman poor did not live to be 10 years old. Roman leaders relied on exciting and relatively inexpensive public entertainment like gladiatorial combat and chariot racing to keep the poor placated.


Tropaeum Traiani

This article is part of the series on:
Military of ancient Rome (portal)
753 BC – AD 476
Structural history
Roman army (unit types and ranks, legions, auxiliaries, generals)
Roman navy (fleets, admirals)
Campaign history
Lists of wars and battles
Decorations and punishments
Technological history
Military engineering (castra, siege engines, arches, roads)
Personal equipment
Political history
Strategy and tactics
Infantry tactics
Frontiers and fortifications (limes, Hadrian's Wall)

Tropaeum Traiani 1977 reconstruction

The Tropaeum Traiani is a monument in Roman Civitas Tropaensium (site of modern Adamclisi, Romania), built in 109 in then Moesia Inferior, to commemorate Roman Emperor Trajan's victory over the Dacians, in 102, in the Battle of Tapae. The monument was erected on the place where legio XXI Rapax had previously been crushed (92 AD). Before Trajan's construction, an altar existed there, on the walls of which were inscribed the names of 3,000 legionaries and auxilia (servicemen) who had died "fighting for the Republic".

Trajan's monument was inspired by the Augustus mausoleum, and was dedicated to the god Mars Ultor in 107/108 AD. On the monument there were 54 metopes depicting Roman legions fighting against enemies; most of these metopes are preserved in the museum nearby. The monument was supposed to be a warning to the tribes outside this newly conquered province.[1]

The original monument has long since disintegrated. The present edifice is a reconstruction dating from 1977. The nearby museum contains many archaeological objects, including parts of the original Roman monument. Of the original 54 metopes, 48 are in the museum and 1 is in Istanbul.


The monument was decorated with a large inscription dedicated to Mars Ultor (the revenger). The inscription has been preserved fragmentarily from two sides of the trophy hexagone, so it could be reconstructed as follows:[2]

       MARTI ULTOR[I]        IM[P(erator)CAES]AR DIVI         NERVA[E] F(ILIUS) N[E]RVA        TRA]IANUS [AUG(USTUS) GERM(ANICUS)]        DAC]I[CU]S PONT(IFEX) MAX(IMUS)        TRIB(UNICIA) POTEST(ATE) XIII        IMP(ERATOR) VI CO(N)S(UL) V P(ater) P(atriae)        ?VICTO EXERC]ITU D[ACORUM]        ?---- ET SARMATA]RUM        ---------------------]E 31. 

The inscription from the main monument can be translated in this way:[3]

"To Mars, the god of war, Caesar the emperor, son of divine Nerva, Nerva Trajan, Augustus, who defeated the Germans, the Dacians, great priest, for the 13th time tribune of the plebeians, proclaimed emperor by the army for the 6th time, elected consul for the 5th time, father of our homeland, after defeating the Dacian and the Sarmatian armies."


 Roman General Tomb

  1977 Reconstruction

The monument was restored based on a hypothetical reconstruction in 1977.

 Archeological research

The monument was researched by Grigore Tocilescu, O. Benford and G. Niemann, between 1882 - 1895,[4] George Murnu in 1909, Vasile Parvan stop the researches in 1911, Paul Nicorescu has studied the site between 1935-1945, Gheorghe Stefan and Ioan Barnea in 1945. From 1968 the site is researched under Romanian Academy supervision.

Civitas Tropaensium

The name of the site was given after the monument, the ancient name of the city is unknown.[citation needed]


  1. ^ F.B Florescu Das Siegesdenksmal von Adamclisi: Tropaeum Traiani (1965)
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Cimec

 External links

Coordinates: 44°06′07″N 27°57′18″E / 44.102°N 27.955°E / 44.102; 27.955


Trajan's Column, Colonna Traiana in Rome

Trajan's Column

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Trajan column)

Trajan's Column
Location Trajan's Forum
Built in 113 CE
Built by/for Emperor Trajan
Type of structure Roman triumphal column
Related articles Forum of Trajan
Blue pog.svg
Trajan's Column

Trajan's Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana) is a Roman triumphal column in Rome, Italy, which commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. It was probably constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate. It is located in Trajan's Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum. Completed in 113 CE, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, that artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians (101–102 and 105–106). Its design has inspired numerous victory columns, both ancient and modern.

The structure is about 30 meters (98 ft) in height, 35 meters (125 ft) including its large pedestal. The shaft is made from a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 32 tons,[1] with a diameter of 3.7 meters (11 ft). The 190-meter (625 ft) frieze winds around the shaft 23 times. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 stairs provides access to a viewing platform at the top. The capital block of Trajan's Column weighs 53.3 tons, which had to be lifted to a height of ca. 34 m.[2]

Ancient coins indicate preliminary plans to top the column with a statue of a bird, probably an eagle,[3] but after construction a statue of Trajan was put in place; this statue disappeared in the Middle Ages. On December 4, 1587, the top was crowned by Pope Sixtus V with a bronze figure of St. Peter, which remains to this day.[4]



[edit] Frieze

Roman carroballista, a cart-mounted field artillery weapon (relief detail)

A continuous frieze winds up around the shaft from base to capital. The relief portrays Trajan's two victorious military campaigns against the Dacians; the lower half illustrating the first (101-102), and the top half illustrating the second (105-106).

The two sections are separated by a personification of Victory writing on a shield flanked on either side by Trophies. Otherwise, the scenes on the frieze unfold continuously and in tipped-up perspective. The imagery is not realistic as the sculptor pays little attention to perspective. Often a variety of different perspectives are used in the same scene, so that more can be revealed (e.g., a different angle is used to show men working behind a wall).

The scenes depict mostly the Roman army in military activities such as setting out to battle and engaging the Dacians, as well as constructing fortifications and listening to the emperor's address and the success he accomplished. The carvings are crowded with sailors, soldiers, statesmen and priests, showing about 2,500 figures in all and providing a valuable source of information for modern historians on Roman and barbaric arms and methods of warfare (such as forts, ships, weapons etc.). The relief shows such details as a ballista or catapult for example. The emperor Trajan, depicted realistically in the Veristic style, makes 59 appearances among his troops.

[edit] Spiral stair

Section view of the pedestal and the interior stairway (click on image)

The interior of Trajan's column is hollow: entered by a small doorway at one side of the base, a spiral stair of 185 steps gives access to the platform above, having offered the visitor in antiquity a magnificent view over the surrounding Trajan's forum; 43 window slits illuminate his ascent.[5]

The column stands 38.4 m high from the ground to the top of the statue base:[6] Located immediately next to the large Basilica Ulpia, it had to be constructed sufficiently tall in order to function as a vantage point, and to maintain its own visual impact on the forum.[7] The column proper, that is the shaft without the pedestal, the statue and its base, is 29.76 m high, a number which almost corresponds to 100 Roman feet; beginning slightly above the bottom of the base, the helical staircase inside measures a mere 8 cm less.[8]

The column is composed of 29 blocks of Luna marble, weighting in total more than 1100 t.[6] The spiral stair itself was carved out of 19 blocks, with a full turn every 14 steps; this arrangement required a more complex geometry than the more usual alternatives of 12 or 16.[9] The quality of the craftsmanship was such that the staircase is practically even, and the joints between the huge blocks still fit accurately.[10] Despite numerous earthquakes in the past, the column today leans at an angle of less than half a degree.[10]

Trajan's column, and especially its helical stairway design, exerted a considerable influence on subsequent Roman architecture. While spiral stairs were before still a rare sight in Roman buildings, this space-saving form henceforth spread gradually throughout the empire.[11] Apart from the practical advantages it offered, the design also became closely associated with imperial power, being later adopted by Trajan's successors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. In Napoleon's time, a similar column decorated with a spiral of relief sculpture was erected in the Place Vendôme in Paris to commemorate his victory at Austerlitz.

[edit] Inscription

The inscription plate above the entrance to the interior (upper image)

The inscription at the base of the column in finest lettering reads:



Trajan's Column around 1896

Translated, the inscription reads:

The Senate and people of Rome [give or dedicate this] to the emperor Caesar, son of the divine Nerva, Nerva Traianus Augustus Germanicus Dacicus, pontifex maximus, in his 17th year in the office of tribune, having been acclaimed 6 times as imperator, 6 times consul, pater patriae, to demonstrate of what great height the hill [was] and place [that] was removed for such great works.

It was believed that the column was supposed to stand where the saddle between the Capitoline and Quirinal Hills used to be, having been excavated by Trajan, but excavation has revealed that this is not the case. The saddle was where Trajan's Forum and Trajan's Market stood. Hence, the inscription refers to the Trajan's entire building project in the area of the Imperial fora.

This is perhaps the most famous example of Roman square capitals, a script often used for stone monuments, and less often for manuscript writing. As it was meant to be read from below, the bottom letters are slightly smaller than the top letters, to give proper perspective. Some, but not all, word divisions are marked with a dot, and many of the words, especially the titles, are abbreviated. In the inscription, numerals are marked with a titulus, a bar across the top of the letters. A small piece at the bottom of the inscription has been lost.

The typeface Trajan, designed in 1989 by Carol Twombly, uses letterforms based on this inscription. There have been many other typefaces based on the inscription from such designers as Frederic Goudy.[1]

[edit] Construction

Erection of the Vatican obelisk in 1586 by means of a lifting tower. A similar arrangement was presumably used for the construction of Trajan's Column, but with less available space and thus manpower.

It is assumed that the column drums were lifted by cranes into their place.[2][12] Ancient sources, as well as a substantial corpus of archaeological evidence, prove that Roman engineers were capable of raising large weights clear off the ground. The typical drum of Trajan's Column weighs ca. 32 t,[1] while the capital, the heaviest block above base and pedestal, is even at 53.3 t, which had to be lifted 34 m high.[2] To save weight, the treads had probably been carved out before either at the quarry or in situ.[10][13]

Even so, for such loads the typical Roman treadwheel crane, which, moreover, could only reach a maximum height of 15 to 18 m, was clearly inadequate.[2] Instead, a tower-like wooden construction was erected around the building site, in the midst of which the marble blocks were raised by a system of pulleys, ropes and capstans; these were powered by a large workforce of men and possibly also draught animals, spread out on the ground.[14] According to modern calculations, eight capstans were needed to hoist the 55 t base block, while the length of rope required for the highest drums measured some 210 m assuming two-block pulleys.[15]

Such a lifting tower was later also used to great effect by the Renaissance architect Domenico Fontana to relocate obelisks in Rome. From his report, it becomes obvious that the coordination of the lift between the various pulling teams required a considerable amount of concentration and discipline, since, if the force was not applied evenly, the excessive stress on the ropes would make them rupture.[16] In case of Trajan's column, the difficulties were exacerbated even further by the simultaneous work on the neighbouring Basilica Ulpia, which limited the available space so that the capstan crews had proper access only from one side.[17][18]

[edit] Purpose

Fiery battle scene between the Roman and Dacian armies

It was traditionally thought that the Column was a propagandistic monument, glorifying the emperor's military exploits. However, the structure would have been generally invisible and surrounded by the two libraries in Trajan's Forum, and because of the difficulty involved in following the frieze from end to end, it could be said to have had much less propaganda value.

On the other hand, as Paul Veyne notes, the relief could be read "vertically" from below, with the stereotypical, highly recognizable figure of the emperor recognizable across the bands of images— just as, on the Colonne Vendôme, Napoleon's figure can be picked up, scene after scene.

After Trajan's death in 117, the Roman Senate voted to have Trajan's ashes buried in the Column's square base which is decorated with captured Dacian arms and armor. His ashes and those of his wife, Plotina, were set inside the base in golden urns. (The ashes no longer lie there.)

[edit] Casts and reproductions

The plaster casts laid out at eye level in the Museum of Roman Civilization

Plaster casts of the relief were taken in the 19th and 20th centuries. After a century of acid pollution, they are now more legible in some details than the original, and the way they are displayed offers students a closer look at the reliefs than at the original site. Examples can be studied at:

Additionally, individual casts of the frieze are at display in various museums, for example in the Museum for Ancient Navigation in Mainz. A complete survey in monochrome was published by the German archaeologist Conrad Cichorius between 1896 and 1900 (see Commons),[19][20] still forming the base of modern scholarship.[21] Based on Cichorius' work, and on the photographic archive of the German Archaeological Institute, a research-oriented web-based viewer for Trajan's Column was created at the German-language image database Arachne.[22]

[edit] Dimensions

  • Height of base: 1.7 m[23]
  • + Height of shaft: 26.92 m
    • Typical height of drums: 1.521 m
    • Diameter of shaft: 3.695 m
  • + Height of capital: 1.16 m
  • = Height of column proper: 29.78 m
    • Height of helical part of stair: 29.68 m (~ 100 Roman feet)
  • Height of column, excluding plinth: 28.91 m
  • + Height of pedestal, including plinth: 6.16 m
  • = Height of top of column above ground: 35.07 m

[edit] Images

[edit] Inspired

Front side of the Karlskirche in Vienna, flanked by two columns styled after the Roman archetype

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Jones 1993, p. 32
  2. ^ a b c d Lancaster 1999, pp. 426–428
  3. ^ Platner 1929
  4. ^ Paoletti & Radke 2005, p. 541
  5. ^ Bennett 1997, p. 158
  6. ^ a b Lancaster 1999, p. 419
  7. ^ Jones 1993, p. 27
  8. ^ Jones 1993, p. 28
  9. ^ Jones 1993, pp. 31–32, Fig. 9
  10. ^ a b c Jones 1993, p. 31
  11. ^ Beckmann 2002, pp. 353–356
  12. ^ Jones 1993, pp. 34–36
  13. ^ Lancaster 1999, p. 424
  14. ^ Lancaster 1999, pp. 428–437
  15. ^ Lancaster 1999, p. 435
  16. ^ Lancaster 1999, pp. 436–437
  17. ^ Lancaster 1999, pp. 430–431, Fig. 9–10
  18. ^ Jones 1993, p. 35
  19. ^ Cichorius 1896
  20. ^ Cichorius 1900
  21. ^ Lepper & Frere 1988
  22. ^ Förtsch 2007
  23. ^ All data from: Jones 2000, p. 220

[edit] Sources

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links


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