Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Arch of Septimius Severus

There has clearly been some significant excavation work done in the Roman Forum since Piranesi made his drawings in the 18th century. This is the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus, born in 145AD and Roman Emperor from 193-211AD. On the left is the Column of Phocas, erected in 608AD (Byzantine Emperor Phocas gained the throne by murdering his predecessor in 602, and came to Rome some time later to hand over the Pantheon to the pope - the column may have commemorated that event, and it was the last great monument in the Forum. Phocas was himself murdered in 610AD). Somewhere between 5 to 8 metres of soil  depth has been excavated from this area.

The church on the right is Santi Luca e Martina - compare the height of the door relative to ground level in the two images! Originally commissioned in 625AD as S. Martina, the church was named for Martina, who was tortured and beheaded for refusing to give up her Christian faith under Emperor Alexander Severus (a great nephew of Septimius Severus) in about 228AD. The church was rededicated as S. Luca in S. Martina in 1588, and rebuilt in the 17th century.

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