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  • When I was studying ancient Rome

  • one of the most difficult things for me to understand is

  • how all of these ancient ruins fit together,

  • but luckily we have Dr. Bernard Frischer

  • who has built an extraordinary video simulation

  • that allows us to move through this space.

  • The difficulty is always two-fold.

  • First of all, that ancient cities are now in ruins

  • so the one problem we have is

  • how do you go from ruins to the way

  • it did look in antiquity.

  • Secondly, we only have random ruins,

  • we don't have everything.

  • So even if you can visualize what the Pantheon looks like

  • or the Colosseum,

  • they are a mile apart in the city .

  • What was everything else? Most of it is missing.

  • So the visualization is trying to put the whole city together

  • And so let's take a look. Okay.

  • It is just beautiful.

  • We're now flying low over the city, over the Tibre.

  • It's a good place to start because you know,

  • the Tibre does divide Rome into two parts.

  • And I see in the distance a very large temple.

  • That's the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus.

  • Jupiter, the best and the greatest,

  • which was the main temple of the Roman state cult.

  • And it's on top of the Capitoline Hill

  • which because of this temple and some others,

  • was considered the center of the state cult

  • and the state religion.

  • So what moment in Rome's history have you chosen?

  • This is notionally the year 320 AD,

  • the peak of Rome's urban development,

  • certainly in terms of public architecture

  • for the simple reason that

  • the Emperor at this time was Constantine the Great

  • and shortly after this year

  • he moved the capital from Rome

  • to his city of Constantinople.

  • Ok so we're flying up the river

  • and after the Capitoline Hill we see the Palatine Hill,

  • another one of the seven canonical hills of Rome.

  • And the Palatine is obvious to anybody who visits Rome.

  • If you're in the forum,

  • this is the great hill with the palaces.

  • In fact, the word palace derives from the word Palatine.

  • The Romans, as time went on in their history,

  • said "where ever the emperor is, there the palace is,"

  • or the paletine. So, the term palace got detached

  • from this physical hill

  • and came to just mean "a place where the ruler lives".

  • And actually as we're flying past

  • what is the Circus Maximus,

  • I see the imperial palace, it is so large.

  • It is literally enveloped the entire hillside.

  • We have to remember this was not only

  • where the emperor lived, and his family with him,

  • but it was also the center of the government.

  • any important relationship

  • between this enormous circus and the palace?

  • They are in fact connected

  • and the Emperor was a great giver of the circus games

  • and could easily come down to the Imperial box

  • from the palace,

  • or if he even wanted

  • he could watch the circus races at the Palace.

  • So we're not talking about Barnum & Bailey,

  • we're talking about sporting events.

  • We're mainly talking about chariot races.

  • Think Ben Hur, the very famous chariot race scenes.

  • And there were also animal hunts,

  • there were parades, religious processions,

  • and the triumphal processions.

  • So let's go into the city proper. We know that

  • Rome was this mercantile culture that has real markets.

  • How much do we know about

  • the daily lives of the inhabitants?

  • We know a huge amount.

  • We know about their hundreds of trades and professions,

  • the different social classes.

  • We know about their diet, we know about their longevity.

  • The scholars have really reconstructed in great detail

  • what everyday life was like.

  • So one of the most impressive structures

  • that I'm seeing is this aqueduct, this highway for water.

  • Yeah, the Romans are famous for their aqueducts.

  • They never could have had their big city

  • of a million or even the 2 million that

  • we're now seeing without the aqueducts

  • that brought water in from

  • 20 or 30 miles away in the mountains.

  • They kept this gravitational sytem working

  • by getting the sources up into the mountains,

  • bringing it down into the city

  • and the valley which gave the force to the water.

  • And they were able to somehow calculate

  • a slope of even just 1 foot every 2000 feet,

  • which is remarkable.

  • We don't know how they could measure so accurately

  • so that the water kept moving gently downhill

  • but relentlessly downhill.

  • There is this kind of ambition,

  • this notion that man can control nature.

  • It does not need to build a city where the water is already,

  • but one can actually bend nature to man's will.

  • The Romans were remarkable engineers.

  • They used the water for drinking purposes,

  • obviously cooking, and so on.

  • But also a lot of these aqueducts

  • ended at great fountains,

  • but also in the great public baths.

  • So this area seems to be sort of set apart from

  • this denser, urban part of the city,

  • and these are the baths of Trajan.

  • Yes, these were not the first public baths,

  • but they were the baths

  • that gave the standard design for public baths.

  • Block of bathing buildings

  • in the middle of a kind of garden area,

  • delimited by a wall.

  • And we were talking earlier about the way

  • in which the emperors would provide for

  • the well- being of the city,

  • and this is really a prime example.

  • So now we are moving to some of the most

  • well known monuments in ancient Rome.

  • The Colosseum.

  • But we're in a fairly late moment in Roman history.

  • Before the Colosseum, wasn't there another palace here?

  • There was.

  • The Colosseum was built by the emperor of Vespasian,

  • who became emperor in 69 AD.

  • After the suicide of Nero, a very unpopular emperor.

  • One of the reasons he was so unpopular was that

  • after the great fire of 64 AD

  • in which a lot of the city was destroyed,

  • he took over 100 acres in the heart of the city

  • and converted it from private property

  • to his own personal use as a palace.

  • The Golden House of Nero.

  • And the Colosseum was actually a lake in that palace.

  • And Vespasian,

  • to show that he was a friend of the people,

  • filled in that lake and built a Colosseum on top of it.

  • The Colosseum was not originally called the Colosseum.

  • No. That's a term that

  • only goes back to the early middle ages.

  • The Romans called it the Flavian Amphitheatre

  • because the Vespasians' family name was Flavius,

  • so Flavian.

  • And it's an Amphitheatre, or kind of a double theatre,

  • an oval in shape.

  • The Romans certainly didn't call it Colosseum,

  • but they did call this enormous statue the Colossus.

  • It's a statue of the sun god.

  • Now you have mentioned that this is the moment

  • when Constantine rules Rome

  • and has not yet moved the capital to the east.

  • And it's interesting to look at his arch,

  • the arch of Constantine,

  • and realize that this is brand new.

  • It's only a couple of years old,

  • Constantine left Rome after he defeated Maxentius

  • at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

  • As far as we know,

  • he never came back to Rome to actually see it.

  • So we've just risen over the edge of the Colosseum

  • and we're looking down.

  • This is in a way, a mirror of Roman society.

  • The best seats are the ones farthest down,

  • closest to the arena,

  • and that was reserved for the emperor,

  • top office holders, priests, and so on.

  • Then behind them were the senators.

  • Behind them, the wealthy business men.

  • And behind them, the free born, normal citizens.

  • At the very top, sat women, slaves, and foreigners.

  • So what were they coming to watch?

  • As we can see now what's going on

  • is the main thing that we associate with the Colosseum,

  • the gladiatorial combats.

  • Another thing that went on here that

  • the Romans loved was hunts of wild animals.

  • The third thing is the execution of criminals.

  • Often in very colorful ways.

  • Ways we would find very cruel.

  • So let's make a left turn and move towards the forum.

  • What is that enormous temple?

  • It's the biggest temple of the state religion.

  • It's the temple of Venus and Rome.

  • It was built by the emperor Hadrian.

  • It's actually interesting because

  • it's two temples back-to-back.

  • One part of it is dedicated to the worship

  • of the goddess, Venus.

  • That's the one facing the Coliseum.

  • The other, to the goddess, Roma, that's facing the forum.

  • And there seems to be a reason for that.

  • Venus is looking at the Colosseum

  • which is associated with fun and games.

  • Otium, the Romans would say. Leisure.

  • Whereas Roma is a more serious goddess.

  • She's facing the forum which is the area of negotium,

  • or business and work.

  • Ok, so now we're moving over to the forum itself.

  • And we'll stop first at the Basilica of Maxentius,

  • the last of the great civic buildings

  • built in Rome before Constantine moved the capital.

  • This is a huge structure

  • and the word Basilica is familiar to us.

  • We often call churches "basilicas" now.

  • For the Romans it was a civic building

  • used mainly for courts,

  • the Christians adopted the building forum

  • because they worshipped inside,

  • so they adopted this preexisting building forum

  • and gave it a new content.

  • So now we're moving into

  • one of the most complicated parts of Rome,

  • especially when you try to look at the ruins

  • and understand how these buildings related to each other.

  • I always say the forum is like the wall in Washington.

  • It's a big open public space

  • used for public events like parades and speeches.

  • The buildings around that open space are also public

  • and they are courthouses and temples.

  • Then, on the forum plaza are,

  • as in the case of the wall in Washington,

  • monuments commemorating

  • great men and important events.

  • Adjacent to the forum,

  • private property was increasingly bought up

  • so that each emperor could build his own forum,

  • the so called imperial fora of the emperors.

  • We've made a full circle

  • and we're now looking again at the Capitoline.

  • We're flying over the Roman forum,

  • we'll acutally come back to it.

  • We're flying over the Capitoline hill,

  • we can see the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus,

  • and we're going beyond, back to the river,

  • where we find a big flat area of Rome

  • called the Campus Martius,

  • the field of Mars.

  • It was called that because in the Roman republic

  • when there was a citizen army,

  • the army would meet here and train.

  • Now, we've just moved over this lovely squared pond,

  • and we're looking at the flank

  • of an enormously important building, the Pantheon.

  • The rotunda, the round part,

  • we wouldn't really see in antiquity.