I am a bit of Roman Forum buff. I've had pretty good luck finding minor oddities in the Forum that I have seen and then researched to find the answer. And others I had read about and then searched out.
But there is one (of many:) that I've had no luck in finding the answer to. In the middle of the Via Sacra in front of the Basilica Julia there is a long rectangular area (maybe 1.3m X 6m) void of paving stones. The outer perimeter is lined with bricks (a modern addition I'm certain) and the center is dirt and gravel.
I'm *assuming* this structure is post-AD203. Because prior to that this was the route of the military triumph parades until the 'Arch of Septimius Severus' was built. And it would have been a *very tight squeeze* around it with chariots, carts carrying the plunder, cavalry, footsoldiers and prisoners.
The only other things I can add is that facing the Basilica it is just to the right of the main central entrance, so not directly centered in front of the Basilica. And after this structure also centered in the middle of the Via Sacra heading towards the Capitoline Hill is a row (5 or 6) of small Pozzi Rituali (ritual pits). These pits date back at least to Augustus, if not earlier.
It's location is very odd! Does anyone know what this structure could have been? (shrine? altar? fountain? etc?). Regards, Walter
..And Paradise Was Lost...like teardrops in the rain...
This is probably one of the entrances to the system of underground tunnels created in the days of Julius Caesar. Back then, the Forum was used for gladiatoral contests and these tunnels were used for sudden appearings by lions etc.
The triumphal road was always in front of the Curia. The arch of Severus is on the spot where the chariot turned to the left. If the chariot of the triumphator would have passed in front of the Basilica Julia, it would first have to make a turn to the right near the Temple of Saturn, and would immediately have to turn to the left to reach the Clivus Capitolinus.
Jona wrote: >This is probably one of the entrances to >the system of underground tunnels >created in the days of Julius Caesar. Back >then, the Forum was used for gladiatoral >contests and these tunnels were used for >sudden appearings by lions etc.
Thanks, I assumed that you would answer this:), I'm a lurker here:). I'm familiar with the Caesarian Tunnels and your theory makes alot of sense. If this was an above ground structure there would have been no need to remove the paving stones beneath it. No above ground remains, not even a concrete core. Not listed anywhere (ancient or modern) as a structure, even if it's origin was unknown. And I assume a hole in the ground that was usually covered(?) wouldn't merit much notice in ancient times to be recorded. The old photo I posted seemed to show that it was excavated below ground level. The long rectangular shape would fit with a staircase or ramp going down. This website shows the tunnels and arena openings http://classics.furman.edu/~rprior/imgs/RCU2/2-075.jpg The opening in the bottom left corner (which can be seen today next to the Lacus Curtius which is also shown in the diagram) lines up *perfectly* (I have a Forum blueprint) with the eastern end of this 'structure' if there was a tunnel connecting the two. I also have reconstructed plan of the Forum amphitheater, it's before the tunnels were in place though. But I assume the location is still accurate, if so this 'structure' would be in an open area and not buried beneath the seating area (stands). Lions: I remember reading of a high-profile prisoner put into this arena alone and then a group of lions was released thru these openings.
>The triumphal road was always in front of >the Curia. The arch of Severus is on the >spot where the chariot turned to the left. If >the chariot of the triumphator would have >passed in front of the Basilica Julia, it >would first have to make a turn to the right >near the Temple of Saturn, and would >immediately have to turn to the left to >reach the Clivus Capitolinus.
Thanks again. I believe I read my (wrong) version when I first starting reading about Roman history and it just became a fact in my mind:). It did seem an odd route for a few reasons. That hard right into a narrow area and then the hairpin curve around the Temple of Saturn. The military prisoners and slaves split to the right and up the Clivus Argentarius which left the Forum by the Comitium. And the Comitium was such a place of honor it would only make sense for a Triumph to pass by it. Thanks Again...Regards, Walter
p.s. I'm sure you're seen this gameboard on the steps of the Basilica Julia http://www2.siba.fi/~kkoskim//rooma/pages/165_021B.HTM The next time you are in the Forum examine it real close. It doesn't show up in the photo but there is a small piece of fused metal within the circle. Nowhere else on the hundreds of meters of exposed steps of the basilica is there another piece of metal fused into the marble steps. I read that in the late Empire thin metal chips replaced the bone chips used to play some board games. Of course we'll never know but I like to take wild guesses at things:). So it's possible that someone left a chip on this gameboard and then a fire in the basilica fused it into the marble? Which doesn't sound to far fetched. But how about! When a hord of Visigoths in AD410 come unexpectedly storming into the Forum, the last thing a gameplayer would think of would be picking-up his worthless chips:). And after the looting, the basilica is put to the torch.
..And Paradise Was Lost...like teardrops in the rain...