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The Urban Legacy of Ancient Rome Photographs from the Ernest Nash Fototeca Unione Collection

"No modern town of the western world can deny its heavy indebtedness to ancient classical building culture."

– Ernest Nash, Roman Towns

About the Exhibit

An archeologist by training, Ernest Nash (1898-1974) began taking pictures of Roman buildings and monuments the moment he arrived in Rome in 1936. He set out to visually record remains in Rome and in other archeological sites, including Pompeii, Ostia, and Herculaneum; in doing so, he created a photographic corpus which is still widely regarded as an important visual resource for the study of ancient monuments. A selection of Nash’s most important pictures was later used in the publication of a two-volume topographic survey of Ancient Rome. His Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome, published in 1962, provides an invaluable album of the ancient city. Even today, its striking images and robust bibliography remain relevant for classicists, urbanists, archeologists, historians and architects.

In partnership with the American Academy in Rome, the team has digitized, georeferenced, and tagged over 1,295 photographs from the Fototeca Unione, founded by Ernest Nash in 1957. The Fototeca Unione began with the donation of Nash’s own archive to the International Union of Institutes of Archaeology, History, and History of Art, growing from Nash’s initial donation of 3,135 negatives to over 30,000 negatives, with new photographic campaigns in Italy, North Africa, and the Middle East.

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How to explore the Exhibit

There are several ways to engage the material in this exhibit:

From the top left of this page, it is possible to limit a search on the basis of Facets such as Topic, Date, Building Type, View Type, and Author.

In the Browse page, one can view images grouped by building types.

In the Curated Features page, it is possible to explore particular topics in depth and to search through the Alphabetical Topics of Nash's Pictorial Dictionary.

At the top right of any page, one can conduct a Keyword Search.

And finally, an Interactive Map situates photographs from the collection in geographic space, helping viewers contextualize and relate images to one another.


Institutional Sponsors

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This work has been made possible by a generous Digital Resources Grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.