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Forma Urbis Romae: the map of ancient Rome

Forma Urbis Romae: the map of ancient Rome

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Last April 21st the 2777th anniversary of the foundation of Rome was celebrated. In this regard, since last January, it has been possible to visit the Forma Urbis museum, one of the most important topographical documents of ancient Rome.

Located within the Celio archaeological park, at the former Italian Youth Gym of Littorio, the Forma Urbis, or Forma Urbis Marmorea, is a marble map of the city of ancient Rome, dating back to the era of Septimius Severus, reproduction of a map of Rome drawn up on papyrus and preserved in a room used as a land registry office, which has returned to shine after 100 years.

The monumental plan was engraved between 203 and 211 AD, and was then placed in one of the halls of the Temple of Peace or "Forum of Peace", commissioned by Vespasian, then incorporated into the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian.

Having a propaganda and celebratory function, it measured 18 m wide by 13 m high and was made up of 150 plates, divided into eleven rows, each depicting the plan of the city of Rome with its buildings in the 3rd century AD.

The first discoveries occurred in 1562, when the excavations of the Basilica of Saints Cosma and Damiano, commissioned by Pope Pius IV, began. Then, in the late nineteenth century, new works led to the discovery of other fragments.

The map was exhibited between 1903 and 1924 in the garden of the Palazzo dei Conservatori; then, until 1939, in the Antiquarium of the Celio. Today, it has found its place in the museum of the same name located on the Celio.

The fragments found were placed on the floor of the main room of the museum, superimposed on the Large Plan by Giovanni Battista Nolli from 1748, so as to allow visitors to see the details of the different plans up close and admire the valuable cartographic work of the Romans, masters in road and city construction.

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