Forum Pacis

7 things you need to know about Forum Pacis dig in Rome

I’m a digital archaeologist. I excavated Pagan and Christian tombs, nympheaums, Consular roads, harbor storehouses, and kilns and much more. Then, a few years ago, I left the trench behind and become a different kind of archaeologist: I wrote for museums and for the Web, telling people about ancient Romans and about the archaeologists who help uncover their stories. Along the way, I met other archaeologists who share my passion for communication, like Antonia, Domenica, Francesca and Paola. It’s with them that I spent my Day of Archaeology, using social networks to tell yet another story about archaeologists, this time about the ones who are currently working at the Forum of Peace dig in Rome.

archeobloggers_Forum Pacis

You probably heard of it: it’s a big area, also known as Temple of Peace, erected in the 1st Century CE by the Emperor Vespasian to celebrate his victories in Palestine. It’s located on Via dei Fori Imperiali, the long road that since the Thirties cuts through the heart of the wide archaeological area that lies in the middle of Rome.

We spent the day in a large auditorium (which also functioned as a temple), situated inside the Forum of Peace. Today, the noises of the buses that cross the modern road, the tourists’ chatter, the construction work for the new subway line make it hard to imagine how this ancient part of the city must have looked like centuries ago: what we know is that it was quite big, on the edge of a large square that was surrounded by a portico and had a flower garden in the centre. The space inside the auditorium was dominated by a cult statue of the goddess Peace on a high podium. Here, sacred symbols taken from the Temple of Jerusalem—such as the Ark of the Covenant and the menorah, the seven sticked candelabra—were kept and preserved. These objects, along with the statue of the goddess Peace, disappeared during the sack of Rome in the 5th century.

Menorah_Titus Arch

Forum Pacis

The excavation, now in its fourth consecutive summer season, is being carried out by the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome and Rome Tre University. Since 2014, they have been joined by students from the American University of Rome.

Below is a list of 7 things you definitely need to know about Forum Pacis dig.

Forum_Pacis

1. First meeting to talk about the last results of the excavation: everyone in the team must know about the latest finds and share their ideas. And that big squared brick thing? It’s the podium of the statue of the goddess Peace

Forma Urbis wall

2. The famous Forma Urbis hanged from this wall. It’s a large map of Rome, over 20 m tall and made of 140 marble plates! The big holes accommodated the bronze hooks that supported the plates.

Flotation_ Forum Pacis

3. The excavation unearthed many traces of hearts, which means that one of the most important activities on the dig is the flotation, that is sifting in water, which helps archaeologists to retrieve even the smallest, but very important, finds such as seeds and bones.

Leveling staff_Forum Pacis

4. Things you shouldn’t do on a dig: stand beside a leveling staff. This way everyone will know how tall (or short!) you really are 😉

Rota_Forum Pacis
5. Anywhere in the Forum you can see traces of the dismantling and reuse of the precious marble decoration from the floor and walls. Where this wide circle lies there was a rota made of porphyry, which was then taken during periods of abandonment of the ancient monument.

Pottery_Forum Pacis

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6. Cooking pots, African Terra Sigillata, eastern amphorae, lamps. By studying pottery archaeologists can retrace past commercial routes within Mediterranean and recover evidence left by the different peoples who lived in the Empire over the centuries. Turns out, all roads did lead to Rome.

Palatine Hill view from Forum Pacis

7. The view is simply breathtaking!

 

Original post by Astrid D’Eredità (@astridrome)
Translation from Italian and editing by Domenica Pate (@domenica_pate)

The Day of Archaeology at Templum Pacis in Rome

We are archaeologists and bloggers, and we think archaeology must be open and inclusive, that it must engage the wider public and society as a whole, because we retrace the past but we live in the present, and sharing is caring, isn’t it?

The archaeologists working at Templum Pacis (also known as Forum of Vespasianum) in Rome obviously care too, and so on July 24th, for the first time ever, an archaeological excavation located on the famous road Via dei Fori Imperiali opened its gates and let both journalists and bloggers in.

[How does an archaeological dig work? The archaeobloggers were free to wander inside the excavation area and ask questions]

[The Forma Urbis Romae, a map of ancient Romae dated 203-211 CE, hanged from this wall]

Professione Archeologo had the honour to be among them and we spent our Day of Archaeology there, where students from Roma Tre University and the American University of Rome are currently digging under the supervision of professor Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani, dr. Rossella Rea and field manager Giulia Facchin.

[Archaeobloggers with field manager Giulia Facchin]

Coincidentally, it was the last day of digging for the summer, and so the closing day became also a good opportunity to meet the public. Some of the students ventured outside the excavation area and down on the street to meet tourists and bystanders to explain what archaeologists do on an excavation. Journalists, with their cameras and blocknotes, and the archaeobloggers (and an artblogger!), with their smartphones and phone chargers, were left to freely explore inside the excavation area and ask questions of the archaeologists.

We asked the students to show us the different activities that usually happen on a dig, how the finds are cleaned up, where they are stored, how they can help archaeologists understand the way ancient Romans lived. We took pictures, wrote tweets, recorded short videos and broadcasted it all via live-tweets, Periscope streaming video, Instagram, and Facebook using the hashtag #ForumPacis.

[Flotation and sifting in water. This is how you’re sure you’re not missing anything]

[One of archaeologists’ favourite jobs when the weather is really hot: finds washing in water]

The Day of Archaeology is also a good chance to reflect about our work and to claim back our identity as archaeologists, trying to imagine what archaeology can be in the future and what it can represent for the future of our society.

So we also asked the students working at Templum Pacis, archaeologists “in progress”, what they want archaeology to be, what’s lacking at the moment in the current practice of it, and what path they foresee going forward.

[The mandatory selfie at the end of the morning]

Below you’ll find their answers, their faces and their smiles, their certainty that archaeology looks back at the past in order to build the future.

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What’s archaeology for you? And how do you want it to be?

 

Original post by Antonia Falcone (@antoniafalcone) and Paola Romi (@OpusPaulicium)
Translation from Italian and editing by Domenica Pate (@domenica_pate)
Graphics by Antonia Falcone