For much of its history Rome did not need a wall as it was the undisputed ruler.
Rome had a third boundary besides the two erected walls: the pomerium
Pomerium: ritual boundary. Only marked at its turning points by stones. On the one had it
defined a civil space in which no military activity was allowed. The second (disputed) function
was that there were no foreign non-roman cults (but seems to only be applied to Egyptian
cults).The egyptian cults were located in the field of mars, which was excluded from the
Pomerium, also of course because it was associated with military training.
The Servian wall appears to include that which the pomerium does.
The pomerium changed over the course of Rome’s history, enlarged an redrawn several times.
The extending of the boundary was undertaken because whenever they gained new territory
abroad (expanding their whole territory) the pomerium was redrawn to mirror their expanding
The population in the Imperial eriod was roughly 1-1.2mil, 600,000 Roman citizens (including
women and children), 100,000 peregrini (‘strangers’), 300,000-500,000 slaves.
Population estimates based on 1) a late antiquity catalogue 2) the redistributions of grain and
Population decreased dramatically in Medieval times because of worsening hygienic situations
and the disruption of grain (evidences the weakening of imperial administration). This is when
the decline of Rome really begins.
Plan of Rome
What is this information based on? Situation in Rome is difficult because there are large areas
which are inexactitude. Our archaeological plan of Rome is based on information gathered from
various different sources:
Excavation, such as the plan of the Forum Romanum
Literary sources and ancient catalogues that list the buildings - but this only tells us of a building
in certain area, but not where it is located or how it looked
*Fragments of an ancient marble plan of the city of Rome:
Forma Urbis - a fragmented plan of Rome dates in the early 3rd century CE, found in the Forum
Pacis of Vespasian. It has been scattered in hundreds of different pieces. It would have covered
280sqm! If you combine the fragments they don’t cover the entire city. It is also curious because
it is oriented south (south is up, rather than north like our maps). The place where it was found is
earlier than 3rd century CE - did it have a predecessor? People can’t agree on its function:
administrative? Found in the office of imperial admin? But it’s size leads scholars to believe that
it was meant to visualize the greatness of Rome and make the viewer feel tiny in the face of
Amodern model: ‘Plastico id Roma’(or Gismondi model) built by the architect Italo Gismondi
for the ‘MonstraAugestea della Romanita’which resembles Rome during the reign of
Constantine in early 4th century. Built under Mussolini. Most virtual reconstructions are based
on this model. It is one of the best. Brief History of Roman Ruins
What contributed to the destruction and what to their preservation?
The buildings were not just abandoned but they were over the century sometimes deliberately
destroyed. But they were also repaired and rebuilt over time.
Destruction in Antiquity
The lack of an efficient fire force, the use of timber for construction, the use of oil lamps for
lighting, tightly packed construction; but also lighting, floods, earthquakes and insufficient
foundations (no control on materials which lead to collapses) of buildings all contribute to the
frequent destruction of public and private buildings. This lead to rising ground levels.
Introduced regulations that prevented destruction: instituted a fire force, increased use of brick,
regulations on height and location, had to have balconies to allow people to escape.
We are well aware of the various buildings. Not included in the count are marble statues. There
was a curator in charge of the statuary to prevent people form stealing it. Last monuments
erected on the Forum Romanum date to 7th century CE. Even after the western empire ceased
and population had decreased Rome still had some new architecture.
First christian emperor. Built a number of secular buildings in centre of Rome but otherwise built
churches in the periphery. He is the last to initiate large building projects.
Rome’s political significance begins to wane due to his abandonment of it, and the renaming and
inauguration of Constantinople as the new capital. This created a power vacuum.Also means
there is an increasing lack of control over building activity. This led to the reinforcement of laws
or the installment of new laws preventing the stealing of materials: shows that this was
happening. Was also done by the emperors. Spoila refers to taking away the booty of the enemy,
but starts to refer to the using of parts from earlier buildings in new ones.
Eg, use of Spoila on theArch of Constantine: the friezes and capitals were taken from
other buildings or were previously stored in workshops. Older buildings had to be disassembled
to build the arch.
Why? Maybe building materials were not as readily available, perhaps because of disruption of
Evidences that people were not put off by stylistic differences (use of different styles) but in fact
Statues are also re-used. The don’t carve new ones but put new inscriptions on statue bases and a
new head on top
Eg, re=used statues int he house of the Vestals, Forum Romanum
Rome was sacked several times by barbarian invaders from the north like the Goths and Vandals.
We can see this on architecture: they went for the precious metals at first, but later ones took
bronze (re-cycled statues, took off roofs and melted those down, etc). Later still they went for
lesser-metals: E.g., Temple ofAntoninus Pius and Faustian (2nd ce