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



The repository of the state archives of the Roman Republic was built in 78 B.C. bv Q. Lutatius Catulus, between the two summits of the Capitoline Hill, facing the Forum. The identification of the building as the Tabularium, which is not mentioned in ancient literature, rests on two inscriptions which were found in the building, and give its name and that of its builder (CIL VI, 1314, 1315). At the beginning of the 19th century, this, the best preserved building of the Republic (on top of which stands the mediaeval Palazzo Senatorio), was thoroughly cleared, both inside and out, and the building rubble of a thousand years removed from it. In 1811/13, the substructures on the Forum side were exposed, and further excavations took place in 1830/31, 1844/45 and in 1851. Two arcades of the great hall in the upper storey were reopened in 1939 and, in the same year, the discovery of the Templum Veiovis (q. v.) made the general plan of the Tabularium clear.

Tabularium, entrance on the south side
Tabularium, the facade of the Tabularium facing the Forum
Tabularium, inside of the portico on the upper floor
Tabularium, the entrance from the Roman Forum blocked by the podium of the Temple of Vespasian
Tabularium, strairway leading to the upper storey from the Roman Forum
Tabularium, inscription of Lutatius Catulus found inside the building by Canina in 1845 and set up on ancient door posts on the northern outer wall
Tabularium, the entrance from the Roman Forum blocked by the podium of the Temple of Vespasian

Tarpeius Mons

[Also known as: Tarpean Rock]

The earliest name of the Capitoline Hill, which is possibly derived from the name of an Italic god. After the building of the Temple of Iuppiter, during which, according to tradition, a man's head (caput) was found, from which the name Capitolium was derived, the ancient names of saxum Tarpeium or rupes Tarpeia continued to be used for the Tarpeian Rock proper. From this precipice it was customary to cast down such criminals as traitors, perjurers, slaves caught in the act of stealing and, under the Empire, those guilty of sacrilege against the emperor. The name of the rock, thus used as a place of execution for traitors, came to be connected with the legend of Tarpeia, the daughter of the officer in command of the arx who, in the days of Romulus, threw open the gates to the Sabines, and was rewarded for her treachery by being crushed beneath their shields (s. Basilica Aemilia I, 197, 199). The Tarpeian Rock rises on the south-east flank of the Capitoline, overhanging the present-day Piazza della Consolazione. It was excavated in 1931/33, after the houses which formerly covered it had been removed.

Tarpean Rock, as viewed from the southwest, to the right of the Church of S. Maria della Consolazione
Tarpean Rock, as viewed from the northeast

Testaceus Mons

[Also known as: Monte Testaccio]

In the ancient warehouse quarter by the Tiber, to the south of the Horrea Galbae (q. v.), and east of the modern slaughter-house (mattatoio), rises an artificial hill some 50 m. high, made entirely from the broken sherds of amphorae which once contained wine, oil, grain and other goods. It was a dump of useless pottery, cast out from the boats tied up in the Tiber, and it grew to its present height over a period of some one hundred and fifty years, from the beginning of the Empire to the middle of the 2nd century. Many of the sherds have potters' stamps or painted inscriptions, from which the date and origin of the amphorae can be determined; the most recent belong to the middle of the 3rd century A.D. The hill is not mentioned in literature, and its name "Testacius" appears for the first time in an 8th century inscription at S. Maria in Cosmedin. Nevertheless, it may well have been known as Mons Testaceus in antiquity.

Monte Testaccio
Monte Testaccio, broken amphorae on the south slope of the hill
Monte Testaccio, amphorae fragments beneath the peak of the hill with the cross
Monte Testaccio

Theatrum Balbi

[Also known as: Theater of Balbus]

In the year 19 B.C., L. Cornelius Balbus celebrated his triumph for the victory over the Garmantes and erected in the southern part of the Campus Martius a theatre, which was dedicated in 13 B.C. According to the Constantinian Regionary Catalogue (CodTop I, p. 122), it had 11.510 loca, that is to say accomodation for 6.000 - 7.000 spectators. Until recently, it was believed that the remains of the theatre lay beneath the elevation of Monte Cenci, upon which the Palazzo Cenci and the church of S. Tommaso stand; however, it was not possible to insert the fragments of the Severan marble plan which bear the inscription "Theatrum Balbi" (FUR, Tav. XXXII) in this position. A new arrangement of those fragments which relate to the Circus Flaminius (q. v. I, 266-268) and the Theatre of Balbus (published by Guglielmo Gatti in July 1960) transfers the theatre to Piazza Paganica. The architectural remains beneath the Palazzo Mattei di Paganica, which were formerly thought to be the curve of the Circus Flaminius, are now recognized as part of the cavea of the Theatre of Balbus. On the other hand, the ancient walls of opus quadratum, east of Via Michelangelo Caetani, in the cellars of Via delle Botteghe Oscure, belong to the Crypta Balbi.

Theater of Balbus, travertine pilaster at the west-end of the cavea, beneath Palazzo Mattei di Paganica
Theater of Balbus, corridor around the cavea and a wall of opus reticulatum beneath Palazzo Mattei di Paganica
Theater of Balbus, remains of the opus reticulatum wall of the cavea beneath the Palazzo Mattei di Paganica
Theater of Balbus, remains of the travertine north wall of the Crypta Balbi, under Via Botteghe Oscure, 19
Theater of Balbus, remnants of the cavea in opus reticulatum beneath Palazzo Mattei di Paganica

Theatrum Marcelli

[Also known as: Theater of Marcellus]

Julius Caesar began to buy land in the northern part of the Forum Holitorium for the construction of a permanent theatre and razed the buildings on the acquired property, among others a Temple of Pietas. Augustus acquired further ground, and built the theatre, which he dedicated in 13 or 11 B. C, to the memory of his nephew and son-in-law Marcellus, destined to be his successor, who had died in 23 B.C. (s. Mausoleum Augusti, II, 720). The theatre accomodated from 10.000 to 14.000 spectators (20500 loca; CodTop I, p.123). Apparently it was already in a state of ruin by the end of the 4th century, since at that time it furnished building material for the reconstruction of the Pons Cestius (q. v. II, p.187). In the Middle Ages, the ruins seryed as a residence and fortress for the Roman families of the Pierleoni, Savelli and Orsini. When the work of excavation and isolation was begun in 1926, the arcades of the lower storey were found to be buried in four metres of accumulated debris. The task of restoring the exterior and exploring the interior was completed in 1932.

Theater of Marcellus, exterior
Theater of Marcellus, exterior, eastern section, as viewed from the Temple of Bellona
Theater of Marcellus, arcades with engaged columns, Doric below and Ionic in the upper storey
Theater of Marcellus, pillar and columns at the entrance of the eastern hall next to the stage
Theater of Marcellus, western side with the remains of the Porticus of Octavia in the background
Theater of Marcellus, exterior
Theater of Marcellus, exterior, featuring columns from the Temple of Apollo Sosianus
Theater of Marcellus, exterior

Theatrum Pompei

[Also known as: Theater of Pompey]

The first permanent theatre in the Campus Martius was built by Pompey in 55 B.C. To overcome the opposition of those who maintained the ancient prejudice against a permanent place of entertainment, he built the Temple of Venus Victrix at the top of the cavea, so that the tiers of seats lay in front of it, as though they were its podium stairs. The theatre could accomodate some 10.000 spectators (17.580 loca; CodTop I, p.122 f.). Even after the Theatres of Marcellus and Balbus had been built, the Theatre of Pompey remained the most important in Rome. It was sometimes known as Theatrum Magnum or Marmoreum, and as late as 357 A.D., it was extolled by Ammianus Marcellinus (XVI, 10, 14), as one of the principal ornaments of the city.

Theater of Pompey, aerial view
Theater of Pompey, tufa opus quadratum foundations of the staircase that led to the Temple of Venus Victrix, beneath the Palazzo Pio-Righetti
Theater of Pompey, cavea substructures on the Via di Grotta Pinta

Thermae Agrippae

[Also known as: Baths of Agrippa]

As well as the Pantheon and the Basilica Neptuni, Agrippa initiated the construction of his thermae by building a laconicum, or hot air bath, in 25 B.C. (Dio Cassius LIII, 27, 1); but it was not transformed into a complete bathing establishment until the Aqua Virgo (q. v. I, p. 55) was finished, in 19 B.C. The Thermae of Agrippa were damaged and partly destroyed by fire, on several occasions; they were restored, first by Domitian, again by Hadrian and finally, under Constantius and Constans, in 344/345 A.D. (CIL VI, 1165). The circular hall, the remains of which can be seen in Via dell'Arco della Ciambella, may be attributed to the time of Alexander Severus (222/236 A.D.); its dome is constructed with longitudinal brick ribs.

Baths of Agrippa, the surviving portion of the rotunda, on the north side of Via dell'Arco della Ciambella
Baths of Agrippa, the Arco della Ciambella, seen from Via dei Cestari
Baths of Agrippa, the dome of the rotunda, showing its londitudinal brick ribs
Baths of Agrippa, Arco della Ciambella

Thermae Antoninianae (Caracallae)

[Also known as: Baths of Caracalla]

The construction of the Baths of Caracalla started in 212 A.D., and they were dedicated in 216, when the main building containing the actual baths was ready for use. The surrounding peribolus was built under Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. The baths continued to operate until the 5th century; and only fell into disuse when the aqueducts were broken, during the Gothic Wars, in 537 A.D. Exploration and excavation of the ruins began in the middle of the 16th century, under Paul III, but systematic work was not started until the 19th century. The most important excavations of the main structure began in 1824, and were continued in the years 1867/73 and 1878/80. The underground service corridors were first opened up in 1901, the work continued in 1912 and was finally completed in 1938/39.

Baths of Caracalla, aerial view from southeast
Baths of Caracalla, the outer wall of the swimming pool
Baths of Caracalla, northeast wall of the main building
Baths of Caracalla, eastern peristyle, "palestra," northeast corner, remains of the mosaic pavement
Baths of Caracalla, vaulting in the northeast corner of the court, which formerly supported the terraces
Baths of Caracalla, central aula, "tepidarium"
Baths of Caracalla, central aula, "tepidarium," side view from a small circular aula in the southern side
Baths of Caracalla, "caldarium" and central aula as viewed from the "natatio"
Baths of Caracalla, eastern peristyle, "palestra," northeast corner
Baths of Caracalla, eastern peristyle, "palestra," northeast corner
Baths of Caracalla, aerial view from southwest
Baths of Caracalla, eastern peristyle, "palestra," northeast corner
Baths of Caracalla, aerial view from west
Mithraeum of the Baths of Caracalla

Thermae Constantinianae

[Also known as: Baths of Constantine]

The Baths of Constantine appear to have been built towards the beginning of his reign, about 315 A.D. They stood on the south-west promontory of the Quirinal Hill, close to the Temple of Serapis (q. v. II, 1159). The restricted site causes the ground plan to differ in certain respects from the other imperial bath buildings. A large part of the structure was still erect, at the beginning of the 16th century (BCom XXIII, 1895, Taw. X-XIII), but the northern part was destroyed in about 1570 to make way for new dwellings and warehouses, where the Palazzo della Consulta now stands. The southern part disappeared in 1611/12, under Paul V, when Cardinal Scipio Borghese began to build the palace, which now bears the name of Pallavicini-Rospigliosi. Elements of the original bath structure are still conserved in the foundations of the palace. Among the sculpture which adorned the baths, were the horse-tamers of Piazza del Quirinale, the statues of Constantine and his son which are now on the balustrade of the Piazza del Campidoglio, and the two river gods which recline at the base of the steps to the Palazzo Senatorio, on the Capitol.

Baths of Constantine (original location), Dioscur now in Piazza del Quirinale
Baths of Constantine (original location), the effigy of the Nile now located by the left-hand stairway to the Palazzo Senatorio, where it has been since 1565
Baths of Constantine (original location), the effigy of the Tigris, now located by the steps to the Palazzo Senatorio, where it has been since 1565-1566. The tiger which originally lay beneath the river god's arm, was replaced by the Roman she-wolf with Romulus

Thermae Diocletiani

[Also known as: Baths of Diocletian]

The construction of these baths was initiated by Maximinian, Diocletian's co-emperor, after his return from Africa in A.D. 298. They were dedicated in the names of both emperors, between May 1st, 305, and July 25th, 306; the former being the day when both emperors went into retirement, and the latter being the death of Constantius Chlorus, who is mentioned in the dedicatory inscription (CIL VI, 1130). Very little is known of the history of these baths in ancient times, but in the Renaissance, considerable use was made of the buildings, parts of which were well preserved. In 1561, Pius IV handed over the surrounding land to the Carthusian monks of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, and in 1563/66 the central hall of the baths was converted, by Michelangelo, into the church of S. Maria degli Angeli. In 1575, the north-western part of the complex was used by Gregory XIII for the construction of the Horrea Ecclesiae, or granaries. These were extended by Paul V in 1609, by Urban VIII in 1630 and by Clement XI in 1705. They were demolished in 1936, during the excavation of this part of the baths. In 1889, the Museo Nazionale Romano was established in the cloisters of the monastery, and was extended to include the greater part of the main building, after its isolation in 1908/11.

Baths of Diocletian, aerial view from west
Baths of Diocletian, frigidarium
Baths of Diocletian, southeast courtyard (the so-called palestra) and room with double apse
Baths of Diocletian, exterior façade of the southeast side of the rooms between Via Principessa di Piemonte and central aula, now Church of S. Maria degli Angeli
Baths of Diocletian, mosaic pavement exedra in the northeast side of the external enclosure
Baths of Diocletian, northwest area, between Via Cernaia and Via Parigi
Baths of Diocletian, central room, transformed in the Church of S. Maria degli Angeli

Thermae Helenae

[Also known as: Baths of Helena]

The baths, which were restored by the Empress Helena between 323 and 326 A.D., after a fire (CIL VI, 1136), belonged to the complex of buildings of the Villa of Heliogabalus in the Horti Spei Veteris (s. Sessorium II, p. 384). The remains, which could still be seen in the 16th century, have now completely disappeared under modern buildings. Only the water-reservoir of the baths is to any extent preserved; it was supplied by the Aqua Alexandrina, which was built by Alexander Severus (222/235 A.D.), and stands at the intersection of Via Eleniana and Via Sommeiller. It consisted of 12 communicating chambers, one of which was turned into a chapel of S. Angeli in the Middle Ages.

Baths of Helena, front side of the cisterns on Via Eleniana
Baths of Helena, side view of the cisterns on Via Eleniana
Baths of Helena, front side of the cisterns on Via Eleniana
Baths of Helena, side view of the cisterns on Via Eleniana

Thermae Lateranenses

[Also known as: Baths of Lateran]

At the point where Via Amba Aradam (formerly Via della Ferratella) enters Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano, there stands a rectangular, cross-vaulted brick building, 10 x 12.50 m. in plan, and some 13.50 m. high. This was the frigidarium of a bathing establishment which dates from the beginning of the 3rd century. Its north-east front flanked the ancient Via Tusculana. The ground on which the baths stood was first explored by Corvisieri in 1873, yielding a great quantity of sculptured fragments and brick-stamps. After the removal of the Casa Parrocchiale di S. Giovanni, in 1936, it was possible to establish the complete plan of the baths (Colini, Celio, p. 335, fig. 273). At the same time, the frigidarium was isolated, and its arched openings freed from obstructing walls.

Thermae Lateranenses, frigidarium on Via Amba Aradam
Thermae Lateranenses, frigidarium on Via Amba Aradam

Thermae Neronianae

[Also known as: Baths of Nero]

Following Agrippa's precedent, Nero built Rome's second public baths in 62 or 64 A.D., to the north-west of the Pantheon, in the Campus Martius. They were repaired and enlarged in 227 A.D., by Alexander Severus, and from then on were known as Thermae Alexandrinae. Fragments of walls, columns and capitals are discovered whenever excavations are made for foundations of buildings, in the area of the baths. Certain ruined walls were visible in the courtyard of the Palazzo Madama until the 18th century; they were removed in the time of Benedict XIV (1740-58).

Baths of Nero, two columns discovered on Via S. Giovanna d'Arco; in 1950 erected in Via S. Eustachio
Baths of Nero, two columns discovered on Via S. Giovanna d'Arco; in 1950 erected in Via S. Eustachio

Thermae Novatianae sive Timotheanae

[Also known as: Baths of the Novati]

According to Christian tradition, a certain senator named Pudens, of the family of the Acilii Glabriones, received Saint Peter at his house in the Vicus Patricius, which corresponds with the present Via Urbana. Subsequently, his two sons, brothers of the maidens Pudentiana and Praxedes, are supposed to have constructed a bath building on the site of their father's house. Excavations underneath the church of S. Pudenziana in the years 1928-33, disclosed mosaics and walls dating from the end of the Republic, at a depth of 9 m. below the present floor level. Above these stood a house, parallel to the Vicus Patricius, having brick-stamps of the time of Hadrian in its walls. The baths date from the middle of the 2nd century A.D., and are built over the preceding house, on a series of high barrel-vaulted substructures. In the 4th century, the most north-easterly hall of the baths was converted into the church of S. Pudenziana. Part of the bath building which stands above and behind the apse of the church, is distinguishable in Via Balbo.

Baths of the Novati, the northwest end of the bath hall found on Via Balbo in 1931
Baths of the Novati, northeast side of a thermal room on Via Balbo, built into the Church of S. Pudenziana
Baths of the Novati, remnants of an ancient road with a grinding-wheel and "moggi" (unpublished excavation)

Thermae Suranae

[Also known as: Baths of Sura]

Licinius Sura, friend and fellow-countryman of Trajan, owned a palace on the slope of the Aventine which lay towards the Circus Maximus. On this property he, or possibly after his death Trajan, built a bath which appears on a fragment of the Severan marble plan as BALneum SURAE (FUR, Tav. XXIII). In design, it resembles the Forum Baths of Pompeii, rather than the contemporary Baths of Trajan. If it is correct to suppose that the street flanked by shops, which is seen on the marble plan, is the present Via di S. Prisca, it follows that the baths must have occupied the site of the present Accademia Nazionale di Danza, in Largo Arrigo VII (formerly No. 7, Via di S. Prisca). An inscription (CIL VI, 1703) found there in 1725, in the Vigna Cavaletti, records the restoration of a "cella tepidaria" by the Praefect of the City, in 414 A.D. Another inscription, discovered at S. Sabina in 1919 (NSc, 1920, p. 141), refers to a restoration of the "Balneum Surae" under Gordian III (238-244 A.D.). The last remains of the Thermae Suranae, in the form of walls and hypocausts (suspensurae), came to light during the construction of the Accademia di Danza in 1943, and were destroyed.

Baths of Surae, northern side during 1943 excavations
Baths of Surae, a corner of the baths, showing the "suspensurae," before destruction in 1943

Thermae Titi

[Also known as: Baths of Titus]

In 80 A.D., at the same time as he inaugurated the Amphitheatrum Flavium (Colosseum), which he had enlarged, Titus also dedicated his baths on the Oppian Hill. They lay in the area of Nero's Golden House, immediately to the west, and adjacent to the part which was later built over by the Baths of Trajan. The baths, of which the ground plan and parts of the architecture are known from Palladio's drawings, disappeared without trace in the 16th century. A porticus opposite the main entrance of the Colosseum, from which a monumental stairway led to the bathing establishment on the hill, was excavated in 1895, and parts of it can still be seen on the north side of the Piazza del Colosseo.

Baths of Titus, portico on the Piazza del Colosseo
Baths of Titus, portico on the Piazza del Colosseo, as viewed from the Colosseum

Thermae Traiani

[Also known as: Baths of Trajan]

When Nero's Golden House was burned down in 104 A.D., Trajan had thermae built over the ruins; the architect being Apollodorus of Damascus. They were opened on the 22nd June 109 A.D.; and two days later, the emperor dedicated the Aqua Traiana (q. v. I, 49, 50) which supplemented the water supply to the baths. The "Sette Sale", a building of nine intercommunicating water chambers, to the east of the north east corner of the baths, served as a reservoir. In early mediaeval sources (CodTop I, pp. 97 f., 274 f.; II, pp. 230, 232), the Baths of Trajan are said to have been built by Domitian, an attribution which is refuted by the brickstamps, which are exclusively Trajanic, together with the homogeneity of construction.

Baths of Trajan, southern exedra, exterior
Baths of Trajan, aerial view from southwest
Baths of Trajan, eastern wall of the second room at east of the caldarium
Baths of Trajan, exedra interior of the eastern peristyle, so-called palestra
Baths of Trajan, northeastern exedra of the perimeter wall
Baths of Trajan, exedra exterior at the northeastern side of the fence
Baths of Trajan, library
Baths of Trajan, two apses room, between the entrance and the northeastern exedra
Baths of Trajan, system of intercommunicating water-chambers of the Sette Sale cistern
Baths of Trajan, cistern of the Sette Sale
Baths of Trajan, warming system between the rooms of the Sette Sale cistern

Tribunal Aurelium

In addition to the podium, which was used by persons engaged in a trial, the Tribunal Aurelium was also provided with theatre-like accommodation for the public, the Gradus Aurelii. The tribunal was built either by C. Aurelius Cotta, the consul for 75 B.C, or by M. Aurelius Cotta in the following year. Cicero, who alone mentions either Tribunal or Gradus by name, states that the monument lay at the south-east end of the Forum, close to the Temple of Castor. In 1888, Richter noted a platform of tufa blocks on the north side of the Temple of Julius Caesar, lying at an angle of 8° 30' to this subsequently-built temple, but parallel with the Temple of Castor. An extension of the same platform is found on the south side of the Temple of Caesar, beneath the north pier of the Arch of Augustus, which dates from 29 B.C. Other parts of the republican, tufa-built platform were also disclosed during the excavation of the Augustan monuments near the Temple of Caesar (see Arcus Augusti, Porticus Iulia, Porticus Gai et Luci, Puteal Libonis). With the help of data recovered during the excavations of 1952 and 1959, the outline of the monument is ascertainable, and its identification with the Tribunal and Gradus Aurelii is rendered probable.

Tribunal Aurelium, tufa blocks of the podium, seen underneath the north pier of the Arch of Augustus
Tribunal Aurelium, tufa blocks under the northern side of the podium of the Temple of Julius Caesar
Tribunal Aurelium, tufa blocks under the northern side of the podium of the Temple of Julius Caesar
Tribunal Aurelium, tufa blocks under the northern side of the podium of the Temple of Julius Caesar

Tribunal Praetorium

The place where the praetor urbanus administered justice was originally in the Comitium, beside the Puteal of Attus Navius, but it was subsequently transferred to the Puteal Libonis (q. v.) on the Forum. Numerous sources place it in the neighbourhood of the Fornix Fabianus and the Regia, between the temples of Castor and Vesta. Topographical references to the Tribunal Praetorium correspond with those for the Tribunal Aurelium (q. v.), and the two places cannot have been far apart. Moreover, Cicero states that the Tribunal Praetorium was "non longe a gradibus Aurelii" (pro Flacco 66). Perhaps, like many tribunals, it was no more than a wooden platform, and there is no conclusive evidence that this particular one was of stone. Its identification, by Lugli, with the monument which lies across the front of the Temple of Julius Caesar, therefore remains a hypothesis which is only partly supported by literary sources. A contrary opinion, based on the inscription of Surdinus (s. Ficus Olea Vitis I, p. 397), that the Tribunal Praetorium should be sought beside the Statue of Marsyas, is likely to be mistaken, since Surdinus was praetor inter cives et peregrinos (CIL VI, 1468), and not praetor urbanus.

Tribunal Praetoris, stairway in front of the Temple of Castor and Pollux
Tribunal Praetoris, stairway
Tribunal Praetoris, stairway