The Seminar on Ancient Art and Archaeology of the Institute of Fines Arts / New York University with Nicola Terrenato, Esther B. Van Deman Collegiate Professor of Roman Studies, University of Michigan
“The emergence of Roman monumental piazzas in the light of recent discoveries from Gabii and Rome”
How did the Fora—the great piazzas of the Roman world—come into existence? We still know relatively little about this central element of Italian urbanism, which slowly developed over the course of the entire first millennium BCE. Greek colonial agorai, by comparison, evolved much faster and became monumentalized much sooner than their central Italian counterparts. New discoveries at various urban centers in Latium and Etruria are casting a new light on this complex issue. The lecture reports on recent work at Gabii and in Rome, to retrace the siting of these piazzas, as well as the emergence of distinctive elements of later fora. Pavements, colonnades, basilicas and shops all appeared slowly and tentatively, often much later than generally assumed. These new developments have broader implications for the history of Roman architecture.
Nicola Terrenato is the Esther B. Van Deman Collegiate Professor of Roman Studies at the University of Michigan. Since 2020, he also directs the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. He studied at Rome and Pisa. He specializes in first millennium BCE Italy, in particular early Rome, northern Etruria and the Roman conquest. He directs the Gabii Project and the Sant’Omobono Project. Other interests include theories of state and empire formation, field survey and history of archaeology. He recently published The Early Roman Expansion into Italy, Cambridge 2019, which was awarded the 2021 Wiseman Book Award by the Archaeological Institute of America.