[Humanist] 24.403 events: digitizing Rome

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Oct 11 21:43:03 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 403.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2010 21:46:03 +1100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: lecture: Digitizing Imperial Rome

"Digitizing Imperial Rome: A computerized Approach to the Architectural 
History of the Roman Imperial Forum"

James E. Packer (Classics, Northwestern)

King's Anatomy Theatre Lecture Hall,
29 October 2010
6 pm
(reception afterwards at the adjacent Old Anatomy Museum)

Although each year millions of people visit the Roman Forum - the center 
of Rome’s former remarkable empire  - they find only one or two 
partially preserved structures and piles of architectural fragments. 
Most of the ancient buildings, apart from the few converted into 
churches, collapsed after centuries of neglect, leaving their remains to 
be quarried by later generations. The details of the individual 
buildings are still not widely understood, and the Forum has never been 
studied as a unified architectural composition. Moreover, owing to new 
archaeological studies and advances in computer technology in the last 
fifteen years, it is now possible both to reconstruct the Forum’s 
monuments accurately and, with these new reconstructions, to comprehend 
the design and meaning of the whole site. These considerations led my 
colleague, Professor and Architect Gilbert Gorski, and me to undertake 
our new, digitally based study of the Forum.

Our work clarifies the design of the buildings around the Forum’s 
central core. It collects, for the first time in English, the most 
important material related each of the major monuments and shows 
visually their structure, size and original appearance. Over a period of 
nearly forty years (29 B.C. - A.D. 10), Augustus rebuilt the site, and 
thereafter, in material, size structure and decoration, its buildings 
related clearly to one another. Together they impressively represented 
the power and prestige both of Augustus own regime and that of the 
Mediterranean Empire it governed.

With some missteps (the short-lived colossal equestrian state of 
Domitian, the unfortunately situated, enormous, gaudy Arch of Severus), 
later emperors carefully maintained Augustus’ design and structures, 
even as they rebuilt many of the monuments after disastrous fires. The 
late third century A.D. additions of Diocletian maintained this 
tradition but added a fashionable, new architectural framework that 
expressed that emperor’s optimistic hopes for the future of his recently 
reassembled Empire. Only the end of Rome as an imperial capital doomed 
the site to neglect, ruin, transformation and, from the 18th century on, 
to the investigations of modern excavators.	

Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney,
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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