[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
(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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