An “arch” in Rome with a “damnatio memoriae”

Arco degli ArgentariThe “Arco degli Argentari” is a structure with architrave (so it isn’t a real arch), which stands just next to the portico of the Church of San Giorgio al Velabro. The area is plenty of remains which manage to bring our minds in very ancient times, when Rome was just born, when the kings tried to improve the city with many public services, as the market of Foro Boario. It was the symbol of a Rome which wanted to open new ways in the world.

For this reason it isn’t a case if the “Arco degli Argentari” is a gift of the “bankers and the merchants of Rome”, offered to the Imperial family of Settimio Severo, in the first years of the III century AD. The “Arco degli Argentari” in fact was used as one of the entrance of the Foro Boario, the place in which the donors worked. Monuments as arches or something similar were very common in Rome, mainly if the receiving was the Emperor: in this way it was easier received some favours

damnatio memorie arts in romeWhat is important to say it isn’t just the fine and rich marble decorations, with the figures and reliefs which completely cover the surface, but what there isn’t…in fact close to the figures of the Imperial family, as Caracalla or Settimio Severo, we could observe a sort of empty space, a relief not so well preserved that looks like to be destroyed. And in fact it was destroyed, in order to cancel the figure. This is a clear example of “damnatio memoriae“, a roman tradition which was used against the enemies of Rome or the men who wasn’t able to have civil behaviours. Nero, for

Ritratto di Caracalla, inv. S 464
Ritratto di Caracalla

example, was convicted, after his death, with the “damnatio memoriae”. For this reason today it’very difficult find something depicting the emperor. Moreover, that cancelled figure represents Geta, the Caracalla’s brother. Geta was the Settimio Severo’s heir, because it was his first son, while Caracalla was the secondo one. But in a period full of murdereds and blood, Carcalla killed his brother accusing him of treason. And the punishment for this crime was a “damnatio memoriae”.

But probably, Caracalla just wanted to eliminate an aspirant to the throne…

A prehistoric elephant in Rome

arts in rome study abroad roman history rome historyRome hosts many places from museums to archeological areas in which we can observe its huge history, from the first King to the last emperor, or from the building of the first church to the great construction sites like St Peter’s Basilica. Moreover, we can find in Rome many hidden places visited by people who have the fortune to know them. One of them is the Museum of the Origins, set inside one of the majestic palaces of La Sapienza University. The modern headquarter was totally built during the Fascism, but it is so important when we could entry in this museum. In fact, there is a wonderful surprise…

villaggioRomaLa Sapienza University, the main and the most ancient university in Rome, was founded by the Pope Bonifacio VIII during the first part of the XIV century. His will was to provide Rome with a university, so a place in which all the most clever human minds in that period could stay and study, as the other italian and european example. Today, La Sapienza University doesn’t host just classroom or auditoriums, but also many little museums linked to the departments. One of them is this museum, in which we can learn something about the ancient origin of the land of Rome, when the city was just a dream, and when volcanos, waters and earthquakes changed a lot the place in which, after many centuries, will bring to light the powerful of the “Caput Mundi”.

Amid the relief maps of the first huts used by the men of the Neolitic, and some Skulls and Skeletons belonged to people lived here thousand of year ago, you will find a curious and large Cranium.

What is it? Why is so special?

arts in rome la sapienza university rome history

It belonged to an ancient elephant which looks like to a Mammuth. What is curious in this history is the place of the discovering: the Roman Forum! It was bring to light during the excavations which took place in the area during the first years of the XX century, when Benito Mussolini decided to bring new stability in his Rome, changing its profile in order to create a sort of bridge between the modern Rome with the ancient one. Try to imagine how strange and wonderful is this discover: in the Roman Forum, when Rome created his new world, when the Roman society managed to develop with marble temples, columns and architraves, when Julius Caesar celebrated himself, as other powerful men and emperors…there, many years ago, an Elephant walked through the virgin lands of the seven hills and the little mountains, where the two volcanos, Sabatino and Laziale, shape with their fires and lavas the place in which a little village will become the centre of the ancient world.