Column of Trajan
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member RakeInTheCache
N 41° 53.748 E 012° 29.046
33T E 291292 N 4641268
Quick Description: Trajan's Column is a monument in Rome raised by Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Senate. It is located in Trajan's Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum.
Location: Lazio, Italy
Date Posted: 7/31/2007 11:09:33 AM
Waymark Code: WM1Y3F
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 252

Long Description:
Completed in 113, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, which commemorates Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars.

The structure is about 30 meters (98 ft) in height, 38 meters (125 ft) including its large pedestal. The shaft is made from a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 40 tons, with a diameter of about 4 meters (13 ft). The 190 meter (625 ft) frieze winds around the shaft 23 times. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 stairs provides access to a viewing platform at the top.

According to coins depicting the column, it was originally topped with a statue of a bird, possibly an eagle, and later by a heroically nude statue of Trajan himself. In 1588, it was replaced by a statue of St. Peter (which still remains) by Pope Sixtus V.

The relief portrays Trajan's two victorious military campaigns against the Dacians; the lower half illustrating the first (101-102), and the top half illustrating the second (105-106).

The two sections are separated by a personification of Victory writing on a shield flanked on either side by Trophies. Otherwise, the scenes on the frieze unfold continuously and in tipped-up perspective. The imagery is not realistic as the sculptor pays little attention to perspective. Often a variety of different perspectives are used in the same scene, so that more can be revealed (e.g. a different angle is used to show men working behind a wall).

The scenes depict mostly the Roman army in military activities such as setting out to battle and engaging the Dacians, as well as constructing fortifications and listening to the emperor's address. The carvings are crowded with sailors, soldiers, statesmen and priests, showing about 2,500 figures in all and providing a valuable source of information for modern historians on Roman and barbaric arms and methods of warfare (such as forts, ships, weapons etc.). The emperor Trajan, depicted realistically (not superhuman), makes 59 appearances among his troops. A large figure of a river god is also visible.

The base is covered with reliefs of trophies of Dacian weapons. Such imagery had the connotation of a surrender, as in Ancient times the defeated soldiers would dump their weapons in a pile as a term of surrender.

After Trajan's death in 117, the Roman Senate voted to have Trajan's ashes buried in the Column's square base which is decorated with captured Dacian arms and armor. His ashes and those of his wife, Plotina, were placed inside it in golden urns.

Plaster casts of the relief were taken in the 19th and 20th centuries. Ironically, after a century of acid pollution, they are now more legible in some details than the original and , even when not, offer students a closer look at the reliefs because of the way they are displayed. Examples can be seen at:

Museum of the Roman Civilization, where each 'frame' of the narrative has been cut into a separate section and the sections are then displayed horizontally in order

National Museum of Romanian History, Bucharest, Romania; displayed horizontally in segments.

the Cast Courts at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Displayed in column form and including the base, the column is chopped into two halves
Most Relevant Historical Period: Roman Empire > 27 B.C.

Admission Fee: Free

Opening days/times:
24 x 7


Web Site: [Web Link]

Condition: Completely intact or reconstructed

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