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

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Magna Mater in Circo Maximo

[Also known as: Temple of Magna Mater in the Circus Maximus]

A statue dedicated to the Magna Mater stood on the spina of the Circus Maximus, east of the central obelisk. In it, the Magna Mater is represented riding a lion. The Regionary Catalogue refers to it as "Aedes Matris Deum" (Notitia and Curiosum Regio XI). The statue of the Magna Mater on the lion in the Circus Maximus frequently appears on coins, reliefs, mosaics and terracotta lamps.

Temple of Magna Mater in the Circus Maximus, detail of the circus mosaic in the baths of the villa at Piazza Armerina

Magna Mater, Aedes

[Also known as: Temple of Cybele, Temple of Magna Mater]

A podium at the west corner of the Palatine has been attributed to the Temple of Magna Mater, which was built sometime after 204 B.C. to house the sacred black stone of the goddess, which had been brought to Rome from Pessinus. The temple was consecrated in 191 B.C. After a fire in 111 B.C., it was rebuilt by Q. Caecilius Metellus, who was consul in 109. It was restored again in 3 A.D., in the reign of Augustus, and a relief set into the garden facade of the Villa Medici shows the temple after this restoration. The ruins of the temple, which had been exposed since the beginning of the 19th century, were first identified as Magna Mater in 1873 by Visconti and Lanciani. During excavations in the cella in 1950, a great deposit of votive terracottas and numerous figurines of Attis were found; these, in conjunction with inscriptions, a statue of the goddess and marble fragments of a lion, which had already been discovered in the vicinity, confirm the identity of the temple as that of Magna Mater.

Temple of Magna Mater, general view from the southeast
Temple of Magna Mater, the temple podium, east and north sides
Temple of Magna Mater, west and north sides of the podium
Temple of Magna Mater, southern side of the podium, with remnants of the altar in the foreground
Temple of Magna Mater, simulacrum of the goddess and fragments of lions which stood on either side of her
Temple of Magna Mater, eastern side of the podium and far southeast end of the monumental stairway in front of the temple
Temple of Magna Mater, eastern side of the podium
Temple of Magna Mater, southern side of the podium

Matidia, Templum

[Also known as: Temple of Matidia]

After the deification of Matidia, the mother of his wife Sabina, Hadrian erected a temple in her honour. It stood in the Campus Martius, east of the Pantheon. A coin, struck in 120 or 121 A.D., depicts the Temple of Matidia with the inscription "Divae Matidiae Socrui". The temple is shown between two aediculae, joined on either side to two-storeyed colonades. These evidently represent the Basilica Marcianae and the Basilica Matidiae, which are mentioned in the Regionary Catalogue (Reg. IX), as standing between the Pantheon and the Templum Antonini. A lead pipe, bearing the inscription "Templo Matidiae" (CIL XV, 7248) was found early in the 17th century; it branched north off the Aqua Virgo in Via del Seminario, and lay in the direction of the ruined columns and walls, between Piazza Capranica and Via dei Pastini, which presumably belonged to the Temple of Matidia. An engraving by Piranesi, entitled "Tempio di Giuturna," shows a row of five columns standing in an east-west direction, and two others in a different alignment (Antichità Romane I, Tav. XIV, fig. 1; Campus Martius, Tab. II, No. 26). All that remains visible today is the stump of a cipollino marble column in the Vicolo della Spada d'Orlando. Two other columns to the west of it are said to be built into the house at No. 76 Piazza Capranica.

Temple of Matidia, remnants of a wall and column base on the Vicolo della Spada di Orlando

Mausoleum Augusti

[Also known as: Mausoleum of Augustus]

In 28 B.C. Augustus built a monumental tomb for himself and his family, for which the word Mausoleum was used even in antiquity. The first to be buried there, in 23 B.C, was Marcellus, the son of Augustus' sister Octavia and the heir presumptive; then his grandsons Gaius and Lucius, and Augustus himself in 14 A.D. Nerva was the last Roman emperor to be buried there, in 98 A.D. In the Middle Ages, the tomb became a stronghold of the Colonna family; the fortress was destroyed in 1167. In the 15th and 16th centuries there was a garden in the ruins; and in the 18th century a wooden amphitheatre was built into it, and used for bull-fighting until the 19th century. Later, circus and theatrical performances took place there. In 1907, it was turned into a concert hall, with accomodation for 3500, and at the same time the first organized excavation was started, although small attempts had been made in 1519 and 1793. The excavations which started in 1907 were resumed in 1926, and by 1930 the crypt below the concert hall had been completely cleared. The final and definitive excavation of the monument began in 1934, during which houses surrounding the tomb were pulled down. After the last concert of the Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia had taken place on the 13th May 1936, work started on the mausoleum itself. The excavation and restoration of the ancient structure were completed in October 1938.

Mausoleum of Augustus, aerial view
Mausoleum of Augustus, after the excavations and restorations of 1936-1938, entrance side
Mausoleum of Augustus, base of the monument with the entrance
Mausoleum of Augustus, the concrete of the base with remains of opus quadratum during the excavations and restorations of 1937
Mausoleum of Augustus, upper section during the excavations and restorations of 1936-1938
Mausoleum of Augustus, upper section during the excavations and restorations of 1936-1938
Mausoleum of Augustus, upper section during the excavations and restorations of 1936-1938
Mausoleum of Augustus, after the excavations and restorations of 1936-1938, from the Lungotevere
Mausoleum of Augustus, the entrance after the excavations and restorations of 1936-1938
Mausoleum of Augustus, interior, remnants of the perimeter wall and the sepulcher chambers after the excavations and restorations of 1936-1938

Mausoleum Hadriani

[Also known as: Mausoleum of Hadrian, Castel S. Angelo]

The Mausoleum of Augustus was closed after the death of Nerva, and Trajan's ashes had been deposited in the base of the Columna Traiani. Hadrian, therefore, started to build a mausoleum for himself, his family and his successors, on the right bank of the Tiber in the Gardens of Domitia. The building was consecrated in 139 A.D. by his successor, and was dedicated to the deceased emperor and his already deified consort, "Diva Sabina" (CIL VI, 984). Hadrian and Sabina, and L. Aelius Caesar, an adopted son, were buried in the mausoleum; also the Antonines, until Commodus (CIL VI, 984-995), for which reason it was also called the "Antoninorum Sepulcrum" (Hist. Aug., vita Severi 24). In later editions of the Regionary Catalogue (after 403 A.D.), the "Hadrianium" is described as a fortified bridgehead of the Pons Aelius. It was besieged by the Goths in 537, and in the battle, the defenders cast the marble statues which adorned it down on to their assailants. Originally, the mausoleum had a base 89 m. square, above which rose a marble-faced drum, 64 m. in diameter and 21 m. high, which enclosed the burial chamber. On the top was a mound of earth, planted with cypresses and crowned, either by a statue of Hadrian or by a quadriga.

Mausoleum of Hadrian and Pons Aelius, general view
Mausoleum of Hadrian, tufa siding in opus quadratum on the nucleus of the cylindrical body
Mausoleum of Hadrian, tufa siding in opus quadratum on the nucleus of the cylindrical body
Mausoleum of Hadrian, corner capital of the square base
Mausoleum of Hadrian, frieze fragments featuring bucrania and garlands, discovered in 1892 in front of the entrance
Mausoleum of Hadrian, general view
Mausoleum of Hadrian, "passetto" built by Pope Nicholas III on top of the Leonine Walls, in the section near the Castel Sant'Angelo
Mausoleum of Hadrian, "passetto" built by Pope Nicholas III on top of the Leonine Walls and gate of Via delle Palline
Mausoleum of Hadrian and Aelian Bridge

Mercatus Traiani

[Also known as: Markets of Trajan]

The eastern exedra of Trajan's Forum is surrounded by a complex of buildings set against the slope of the Quirinal, and supporting the hill where it was hollowed out for the construction of the Forum. These buildings were erected in the first decade of the 2nd century A.D., before the Forum was built, and served as a market for general trading, and perhaps also for the public distribution of corn. There were 150 individual shops (tabernae), a great two-storeyed hall, and rooms with water tanks for the sale of fish and liquids; there were also offices for administration. Streets on three different levels provided access to the buildings; the street on the lowest level passed between the precinct wall of the Forum and the market, the middle one, with the mediaeval name of Via Biberatica (derived from Piperataria or Piperatica), led through the shop of the third storey. The upper street gave access to the shops facing the Quirinal. The buildings belonging to Trajan's Market were excavated in 1929/30.

Markets of Trajan, as viewed from Trajan's Forum
Markets of Trajan, Via Biberatica and tabernae with travertine doors
Markets of Trajan, Via Biberatica and tabernae of the upper hemicycle, toward the bottom, a door facing the Suburra
Markets of Trajan, Via Biberatica above the hemicycle
Markets of Trajan, eastern extremity of the façade on the Via di Campo Carleo
Markets of Trajan, hemicycle façade
Markets of Trajan, stairway with the great hall in the background, during excavations in 1929
Markets of Trajan, street along the northwest side, facing the Quirinal Hill, and, at the bottom, the door to the covered hall
Markets of Trajan, tabernae on the Quirinal Hill along the Salita del Grillo
Markets of Trajan, as viewed from Trajan's Forum
Markets of Trajan, as viewed from the loggia of the Knights of Rhodes

Milliarium Aureum

[Also known as: Golden Milestone]

From the evidence of Roman writers the Milliarium Aureum, the Golden Milestone, erected bv Augustus in 20 B. C, stood "in capite Fori Romani" (Plinius, Nat. Hist. III, 66), "sub aede Saturni" (Suetonius, Otho 6; Tacitus, Hist. I, 27). It was a marble column covered with gilt bronze which recorded the distances to the great cities of the empire. Part of the column was discovered and, in 1835, set up on the Umbilicus Romae (q. v. II, 1302), which, at that time, was wrongly identified as the Milliarium. Today, this column drum lies below the Temple of Saturn, beside a circular marble plinth decorated with palmettes which was found in 1852, between the Rostra and the Basilica Iulia. During the excavation of Diocletian's monument to the Tetrarchs (s. Basis Decennalia I, 224), in October 1959, a concrete foundation was discovered south east of the Hemicyclium of the Rostra; from its position and size, it may well be attributed to the Milliarium Aureum.

Miliarium Aureum, marble decoration of the base and the fragment of the shaft
Miliarium Aureum, Roman cement foundations

Minerva Chalcidica

[Also known as: Temple of Minerva Chalcidica]

The Temple of Minerva Chalcidica in the Campus Martius is attributed to Domitian, and is known from the Curiosum of the Constantinian Regionary Catalogue, where it is listed as standing between the Serapaeum and the Divorum. The Severan marble plan shows a circular building between the Porticus Divorum and the Temple of Isis and Serapis, of which the fragmentary inscription was first interpreted as "Lavacrum Agrippinae" (Bellori 1673), and later as "Lavacrum Agrippae" (Sjoqvist 1946). A recently discovered fragment of the marble plan, published in 1960, supplements the inscription, which now reads "Minerva" and makes it possible to identify the circular building as the Temple of Minerva Chalcidica. The schematic drawing of the marble plan shows a circular wall, surrounding a rectangular base, with a flight of steps on each side. This is supplemented by a drawing of Onofrio Panvinio (Cod. Vat. Lat. 3439 fol. 25 r.), based on the observations and measurements of Pirro Ligorio. The temple stood between the Piazza del Collegio Romano, Via della Gatta and Via di Santo Stefano del Cacco, below the modern building of the Questura, No. 3, Piazza del Collegio Romano (s. Arcus ad Isis I, 122).

Mithraeum Domus Barbarinorum

[Also known as: Mithraeum of Palazzo Barberini]

During building operations in the garden behind the Palazzo Barberini in 1936, some rooms of a Roman house of the 1st century A.D. were uncovered; the westernmost room had been converted into a Mithraeum at a later date. It is a rectangle of 11.85 m. x 6.25 m., and is roofed with a segmental barrel vault. The cult image, on the south wall, is one of the few painted representations of Mithras; it shows the usual scene of the god killing the bull. The Mithraeum is situated between the garden facade of the Palazzo Barberini and the Salita S. Nicola da Tolentino.

Barberini Mithraeum, the cult image of Mithras
Barberini Mithraeum, images depicting Mithras

Mithraeum Domus Sanctae Priscae

[Also known as: Mithraeum of Santa Prisca]

In 1934, in the course of building operations, the Augustinian monks of S. Prisca discovered a Mithraeum under their church, and over a period of years they excavated it. The work was interrupted by the second World War, but was resumed in March 1953 by the Netherlands Historical Institute in Rome, and was completed in 1958. Behind and under the apse of the church, part of two Roman houses were identified, into which the Mithraeum had been built at the end of the 2nd century. The long walls are decorated with paintings, of which two layers are visible, the later is dated 220 A.D. The cult niche contains a large reclining figure of Oceanus-Saturnus, as well as the usual representation of Mithras killing the bull. On either side of the entrance to the Mithraeum are niches for the torchbearers, and the figure of "Cautes" survives.

Mithraeum of S. Prisca, general view
Mithraeum of S. Prisca, dedicatory inscription to the "Deus Sol Invictus Mithras"
Mithraeum of S. Prisca, votive aedicule with a statue of Oceanus and a high relief of Mithras the bull-slayer, both in stucco
Mithraeum of S. Prisca, marbe statue of Cautes in the niche on the right of the entrance
Mithraeum of S. Prisca, fresco on the southern wall
Mithraeum of S. Prisca, fresco on the southern wall, surviving detail of a slave driving a ram
Mithraeum of S. Prisca, room to the north of the mithraeum, with counters and an aedicula built out of the preexisting wall
Mithraeum of S. Prisca, general view during restoration
Mithraeum of S. Prisca, votive aedicule during restoration, inside the aedicule is a stucco statue of Oceanus
Mithraeum of S. Prisca, etched inscription in the votive niche

Muri Aureliani

[Also known as: Aurelian Walls]

The city wall of imperial Rome was begun by Aurelian between 270 and 272 A.D., and was completed by Probus (276-282A.D.). It is 18.837 km. long and has 381 towers, which project from the line of the wall every 100 Roman feet (29.60 m.), and give it additional strength. There are eighteen main gateways, and several smaller openings (posterulae). The original fortifications were from 7.50-8 m. in height and in certain places 10 m. The wall was twice reinforced and elevated. The first restoration is attributed to Maxentius, while its present form is mainly due to restorations by Honorius and Arcadius in 403 A.D. The wall continued to be the defence of Rome until the 20th September 1870, when the army of the Kingdom of Italy breached it with modern artillery, north-west of the Porta Pia, and entered the city. The greater part of the Aurelian fortifications are preserved; only on the right bank of the Tiber was the old wall replaced by a new line of defence under Urban VIII, in 1642/44.

Aurelian Walls, featuring towers on the eastern side of the Pincian Hill, under the Villa Medici
Aurelian Walls, between Porta Pinciana and Porta Salaria featuring the only tower preserved at its original height (Via Campania, 10)
Aurelian Walls, immediately to the east of the Porta Salaria, with the tomb of Quintus Sulpicius Maximus in the foreground
Aurelian Walls, postern of the Via Nomentana, south of Porta Nomentana
Aurelian Walls, postern of the Castro Pretorio, to the south of Via Montebello
Aurelian Walls, between the Porta Tiburtina and the Porta Prenestina on the Via di Porta Labicana
Aurelian Walls, immediately south of the Porta Tiburtina, with towers rebuilt by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese on the remains of the Honorian ones
Aurelian Walls, posterula of the Horti Liciniani, on Via di Porta Labicana
Aurelian Walls, between the Amphiteatro Castrense and the Porta Asinaria, along the Viale Castrense, covered walkway with towers
Aurelian Walls, the arcades of two vaulted rampart walks, lying one above the other, on Viale Castrense, the lower one dates from the first and the upper from the second building period
Aurelian Walls, Porta Latina and towers
Aurelian Walls, tower to the east of the Porta Metrovia
Aurelian Walls, immediately north of the Porta Latina, interior side
Aurelian Walls, covered rampart walk inside the wall between Porta Latina and Porta Appia
Aurelian Walls, the interior of the rampart walk between Porta Latina and Porta Appia
Aurelian Walls, wall and towers near Porta Appia
Aurelian Walls, towers between the Porta Appia and the Porta Ardeatina, in the section also known as the Vigna Casali
Aurelian Walls, postern of Vigna Casali with the street leading from it
Aurelian Walls, part of the walls which remain standing behind the Bastione di Sangallo, which took their place
Aurelian Walls, between the Porta Ardeatina and the Porta Ostiense, Bastion of Sangallo the Younger
Aurelian Walls, between the Porta Ostiense and the Tiber featuring heavily restored towers
Aurelian Walls, restored segment to the south of Monte Testaccio
Aurelian Walls, far southern end by the railway bridge
Aurelian Walls, on the Lungotevere Testaccio, between the Ponte Aventino and the Ponte Testaccio
Aurelian Walls, tower on ancient foundations, on the left bank of the Tiber, in front of the Mattatoio
Aurelian Walls, section by the Tiber

Murus Servii Tullii

[Also known as: Servian Walls]

According to tradition, the original city wall was built by Servius Tullius, the sixth King of Rome, who is thought to have reigned 578-534 B.C. However, the defences of Republican Rome, known as the "Servian Wall" - which is still visible in many places - date only from the period after the Gallic invasion of 386 B.C. The fortress walls of the Arx on the northern summit of the Capitol, and the remains of walls on the west slope of the Palatine, are earlier and may be attributed to the time of the Kings, in the 6th century B.C. The last thorough restoration and improvement of the wall took place in 87 B.C.

Servian Walls, portion of the northwest slope of the Quirinal Hill
Servian Walls, section at the Quirinal Hill on Via Carducci
Servian Walls, section of the Quirinal Hill on Via delle Finanze (now Via Antonio Salandra)
Servian Walls, the stretch of wall, 36 m., beside Via delle Finanze (now Via Antonio Salandra) during excavation in 1909
Servian Walls, agger section of the Piazza dei Cinquecento, interior side
Servian Walls, section of the Piazza dei Cinquecento, to the east of the agger, the Roman concrete nucleus was redone in opus reticulatum
Servian Walls, section from Piazza dei Cinquecento to the northwest of the Porta Viminalis, external side and cross-section
Servian Walls, section from the interior side of Piazza dei Cinquecento, to the central location of the Porta Viminalis
Servian Walls, section from the Piazza dei Cinquecento, to the east of the Porta Viminalis, interior side
Servian Walls, section from the Piazza dei Cinquecento, external side with later additions in opus latericium
Servian Walls, remains of the wall on the Esquiline Hill, Via Carlo Alberto 45, showing three courses of blocks
Servian Walls, stretch of the wall 23 m. long; in the center a semicircular buttress faces inwards
Atrium Vestae, remains of the Servian Walls in the east part of the building
Servian Walls, section on Via Sant'Anselmo on the Aventine Hill
Servian Walls, section on the Viale dell'Aventino, completely excavated in 1829, featuring an arch for a ballista
Servian Walls, wall on the west slope of the Palatine Hill
Servian Walls, section at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, along the Via del Teatro di Marcello
Servian Walls, section on the west slope of the Palatine Hill, at the level of the Clivus Victoriae
Servian Walls, section of the Arx fortification in the garden of S. Maria in Aracoeli, exterior side
Servian Walls, section through the wall
Servian Walls, section of the Arx fortification in front of the north side of the Tabularium
Servian Walls, juncture of two stretches of the wall at the foot of the Capitoline Hill
Servian Walls, wall of the gate in Piazza Magnanapoli
Servian Walls, section in Piazza Manfredo Fanti, external side and cross-section with later covering in Roman concrete
Servian Walls, section in Piazza Manfredo Fanti, interior side and cross-section
Servian Walls, section in Piazza Magnanapoli
Servian Walls, section on the northwest slopes of the Quirinal Hill
Servian Walls, section on Via Carlo Alberto, 45
Servian Walls, Palatine Hill, southwest slope, assimilated into the imperial structures by the Paedagogium