Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Destruction of Ancient Rome

Rodolfo Amedeo Lanciani - The Destruction of Ancient Rome: A Sketch of the History of the Monuments (1899) direct link 
Open Library main page

Like any thriving city Rome has preserved some of its past and lost more - that process is the subject of this book.  It's not always a story of ignorance but as much of considered improvements (given a large push by the emperors), benign neglect and sometimes mere chance.  There were construction projects, removal of material from older buildings, sacks, floods, fires, modernization, weather and the simple passage of time.  Lanciani brings detail, both historical and observed, to the account but doesn't appear to be overwhelmed by it.  (The book seems to have been written in English as several of his works were, many of which were translated later back into his native language.)

Rodolfo Lanciani (1847-1929) was a professor of Roman topography at the University of Rome and responsible for overseeing excavations in the city.  He wrote several books on the subject and produced a series of highly detailed maps Forma Urbis Romae that are still consulted today.  He was a popular speaker and toured the US where he gained some celebrity (and his first wife).