|The Forum Area
Forum of Trajan
107 A.D. - Dacia (Romania) conquered and
January 15th 112 A.D. Inauguration of the Forum and the Basilica
May 18th 113 A.D. Inauguration of the Trajan Column;
117 A.D. Trajan dies and the arch of triumph is ordered by the Senate;
125-138 A.D. Probable dedication to the temple on behalf of Adrian.
Complex Area: 300x180 meters
uncovered piazza area: 120x90 meters
Area of the Basilica Ulpia: 180x60 meters
Height of Trajan's Column: 39.81 meters
The Forum of Trajan has a more complicated
foundation than the other Imperial Forums. The piazza is closed, with the Basilica Ulpia.
At the back of this the Trajan column was elevated between the two Libraries, and it was
believed that the complex concluded with the Temple dedicated to Divo Trajan. One entered
the piazza through a curved arch passageway, a type of arch of triumph, in the center of a
convex wall decorated with jutting columns.
An equestrian statue of Trajan occupied the center of the piazza, which was bordered by
porticos with decorated attics-similar to the Forum of Augustus but with Caryatids instead
of Daci. Spacious covered exedras opened up behind the porticos. The facade of the
basilica, that closed the piazza, also had an attic decorated with Daci statues. The
inside of the Basilica had 5 naves with columns along the short sides and apses at both
ends; the very spacious central nave had two floors.
The Trajan Column was closed
in a small courtyard, bordered by porticos opposite of the Library's facade. These were
constituted of large rooms with niches in the walls and decorated with two types of
The temple was probably of an enormous dimension and probably closed by a fenced portico.
Today's archeological excavations in the Forum of Trajan have demonstrated that the Temple
of Trajan's position is not what it was hypothesized to be in the past. Archeological
evidence has clarified the findings in the area to be Insulae- remains of
houses rather than those from a temple structure. These findings lie underneath what is
today the Province headquarters- the palazzo of Valentini, next to the Column's location.
Rather, the temple was probably situated exactly in the middle of the forum area, where
excavation is now taking place.
The Forum of Trajan was utilized as a splendid
area of representation for public ceremonies. We know, for example, that in 118 A.D.
Adriano publicly burned tables with citizen's debts in the piazza, as a statement to the
Also, in the late epoch, exedras behind the lateral porticos were used to host poetry
readings and conferences.
Court hearings and ceremonies for the freedom of slaves were probably held in the apses of
The Library was probably used as a sort of historical archive of the Roman state and also
conserved republican annals.
The sculptural decorations in the various Forum spaces transmitted messages of imperial
propaganda of Trajan.
Above all was the celebration of the Daci conquest and the victorious army with focus on
the achievement of peace. The representation was sculpted into the walls with images of
Images of cupids watering griffins on the entrance wall allude again to the peacefulness
of the Empire's power.
The expansion and growth of the Empire, completed with the campaign towards the Orient and
interrupted by the death of the Emperor, would have allowed Trajan to consider himself the
new founder of Rome.
His representation as a hero is justified in his sepulcher in the base of the Column, in
the heart of the city.
The Trajan Column
The Trajan Column is constructed of giant marble blocks and a spiral staircase leading to
the top. The base, excavated inside to re-excavate the tomb, was sculpted with panels of
stacked Dacian arms.
A long embellishment goes around the column shaft like a roll of papyrus, leaving the
fluting under the Doric capital visible.
The embellishment narrates two Dacian wars, representing the enemy with pride and
There were 2,500 figures sculpted in similar but various poses to avoid repetitiveness.
The column reaches in height to the top according to correct optics.
A- Hollowness in the Column: The Trajan
column is a hollow shaft made of marble. In the area of the Basilica Ulpia, a gray granite
fragment is visible with an interesting wavy border.
This was probably from one of the temple columns of 50 feet in height (around 15 meters).
It was probably impossible to extract such monolithic blocks from the mines, so the column
was probably constructed by stacking hollow blocks, using these wavy borders to hide the
joined areas and reinforce the column's structure.
B- A canceled and corrected inscription: In
the east portico of the Forum are diverse preserved fragments of marble- two of which have
inscriptions of cohorts that participated in the Dacian wars.
In these two examples, in a later epoch, the line with the denomination of the original
cohort was cancelled, chiseling the surface and replacing it with two lines and the name
of a cohort "ROMANA PALATINA" in less regular characters.
Circular holes on the upper floor were used to keep military emblems. Bases for these
emblems were probably located in the above attic of the porticos.
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