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Digital Forma Urbis Romae

This exhibit explores the Forma Urbis Romae, or Severan Marble Plan of Rome. This enormous map, measuring approximately 18 x 13 meters (ca. 60 x 43 feet), was carved between 203-211 CE and covered an entire wall inside the Templum Pacis in Rome. It depicted the groundplan of every architectural feature in the ancient city, from large public monuments to small shops, rooms, and even staircases.

The Severan Marble Plan is a key resource for the study of ancient Rome, but only 10-15% of the map survives, broken into 1,186 pieces. For centuries, scholars have tried to match the fragments and reconstruct this great puzzle, but progress is slow--the marble pieces are heavy, unwieldy, and not easily accessible. Computer scientists and archaeologists at Stanford employed digital technologies to try to reconstruct the map. In collaboration with the Sovraintendenza of the Comune di Roma, a team from Stanford's Computer Graphics laboratory created digital photographs and 3D models of all 1,186 fragments. Those models and images are presented here.