Templum Pacis, Rome


Students from Roma Tre University and the American University of Rome

To celebrate the Day of Archaeology the students of Rome Tre University and the American University of Rome put down their trowels and acted as guides to show off the results of their excavation at the Forum of Vespasian (aka Templum Pacis) in the centre of Rome. As well as passing tourists, the media showed up and also many fellow archaeologists took the time to come and look. Even the weather co-operated! For much of the last two weeks the daytime temperatures have been more than 38C (100F) but after rain during the night, the centre of Rome was much cooler.

The excavated area that visitors could see is just outside the Roman Forum. It was built by the Emperor Vespasian to celebrate his victory at Jerusalem and at one time this area held the sacred items he took from the Temple at Jerusalem, such as the Menorah and the Ark (which unfortunately have long since disappeared).  In one part of the excavation we have reached the marble pavement of the original forum. Overlying this are the remains of makeshift buildings that occupied the space after the forum went out of use.


The Roman marble floor. The central marble piece has been robbed in antiquity.

Today the area is dominated by a wide boulevard that was constructed by Mussolini. In order to create this space all of the 18th and 19th century buildings which had characterized this area were demolished and the ground was leveled using the debris. Looking at the section which separates the dig area from the present ground level, you can get some idea of the tremendous amount of fill that has been removed in order to arrive at the in situ layers of the medieval period. Another difficulty is that the stratigraphy is disrupted by robber trenches, and much of the marble and foundation stonework was removed to be used in later constructions. The very large circular hole in the upper area is caused by a robber trench to extract a large column fragment.


The upper area digging down through medieval layers. The large circular hole is where a piece of a column was robbed.

The vividly coloured marble of the Roman pavement makes an immediate impression but, in many ways, it is the information from the makeshift buildings and sparse remains of the succeeding era which is most interesting. We know so little about the texture of daily life in this period that every small piece of evidence is exciting.

Thank you to everyone who came to visit our dig this morning, on what is the last day of the summer season. Prof Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani and his team look forward to next year’s Day of Archaeology when we can give you all an update.

Best wishes from the Templum Pacis 2015 team and special thanks to Soprintendenza Speciale per il Colosseo, il MNR e l’Area Archeologica di Roma and particularly Dott.ssa Rosella Rea for allowing us to participate in this very special experience.

Gladiators and the Colosseum

For Dr Pier Matteo Barone the Day of Archaeology 2014 was spent teaching students of the American University of Rome about Roman architecture. One great advantage is that the class doesn’t have to stay in the lecture room or look at powerpoint images – they can go and see the real thing!

“Have you seen pictures of monuments like these in your classes? Ever wondered why ancient Rome is so attractive? Or whether you could really sense the ancient Roman gladiators fighting in the Colosseum? In the summer I teach ARC 101, Roman Archaeology on-site, to a group of students made up mostly of Study Abroad students who come to Rome for an intensive fix of Roman archaeology! It’s great because students can discover the richness of Roman archaeology through a combination of academic instruction and on-site visits, getting hands-on experience. The temperature can get pretty hot in Rome in July but it beats being stuck indoors!”

Digging in Ancient Rome!

Archaeology students from Universita di Roma Tre and the American University of Rome collaborate to excavate the Forum of Vespasian in the center of ancient Rome. The weather is hot, the site is dusty, but everyone is having a good time. Here is a sample of the comments heard on an average day down at the dig:
“I love having free reign over all the restricted areas.” (Kagan)

“I love feeling like a cage zoo animal with peoples faces swished against the bars to see us.” (Kagan)

“The good thing about being covered in dirt is that people don’t bug you to go to their restaurant.” (Evelyn)

“What did you do today?” (Sadie) “Same thing we do everyday.”(Thomas) “Shoveling digging and throwing rocks.” (Ignatius) “Moving rocks from here to here than from there to here and back. With the occasional waving at tourists. They get real exciting over that.” (Thomas)

“Wow there must have been a lot of pigs in this area at one time. Oink!” (Frangelica)

“Everything is red can we just get a black layer.” (Ellen)

“My back really hurts. But I am learning a lot.” (Melissa)

“Finally today I was able to identify the different layers.” (Evelyn)

“Is this something or is this a rock?” (Ellen)

“Umm I think we found something!” (Thomas)

“Identifying the different pottery is difficult just when I think I figured out which is which I found out I’m wrong.” (Sadie)