Roman Forum Excavation (2003-2005)

In 2003, The Italian Ministry of Culture (Italian Ministero per i Beni ed Attività Culturali) gave the Institute permission to explore and document this important commercial zone known as “Post Aedem Castoris,” situated behind the Temple of Castor and Pollux, as well as the related area on the adjacent Vicus Tuscus.  AIRC, partnered in this endeavor with archaeologists and students from Stanford and Oxford Universities. The principal aim of the excavation was to examine the articulation of public, religious and commercial space on the edge of the Roman Forum in the Republican, Imperial, and late Roman periods, specifically between the Temple of the Castors and the Horrea Agrippiana.

  • American Institute for Roman Culture
  • Oxford University, Institute of Archaeology
  • Stanford University, Department of Classics
  • Co-Directors
  • Darius A. Arya, PhD
  • Andrew Wilson, PhD
  • Jennifer Timble, PhD

The Forum in Rome was the heart of the ancient city and the Roman empire. It constituted the political, religious, commercial, and legal center of the city.
The section that the American Institute for Roman Culture excavated includes is one of the central, high-rent shopping districts, located behind one of the Forum’s most prestigious and noteworthy temples, the Temple of the Castors (the patron gods of the Roman knights), surrounded by important shrines.
Plentiful inscriptional evidence has described the area to be explored as a place in which luxury goods, such as jewels, incense, and dyes, were sold (Papi 2002).
The excavation complements previous exploration in the vicinity, tying into important work of other scholars and foreign institutions, including l’Università La Sapienza di Roma, the Norwegian School in Rome, the Finnish School in Rome, the British School in Rome and the American Academy in Rome.
The project analyzed the commercial activity in the Forum through stratigraphic excavation and explored the interactions of the commercial, religious, and political spaces there. Through detailed documentation of the various building phases, the project also addressed important topographical issues in an area known to be filled with important shrines and monuments, but exact locations had remained elusive.

In 2004, the American Institute for Roman Culture and Oxford and Stanford Universities continued with the second season of the the ‘Post Aedem Castoris’ excavation in the Roman Forum. The team examined the area between the Temple of the Castors and the Oratory of the Forty Martyrs, and the area in the Horrea Agrippiana. The focus of the project included:

* Investigation of structures of Roman, late Roman, and early Medieval date previously excavated in 1900 by G. Boni. Boni published a plan without further documentation (A, D, E, F, G).
* Investigation of structures which pre-date the standing remains of the Domitianic Portico, as well as documentation of the evidence for later conversion of this space into possible commercial structures, through two separate trenches (B and C).
* Investigation of structure against a brick pier, which was originally faced in marble. The structure was a monumental entrance to the Vicus Unguentarius (Street of perfume sellers) or possibly part of a structure of unknown use (D, F).
* Excavation along the Vicus Tuscus to investigate the late Antique / early Medieval shops lining the road, and the extent to which the road was maintained in the Medieval period. On the far end, study of the relationship between the road and the Horrea Agrippiana (E, G, H, I).

In 2005, the Project concluded with examination of the previously mentioned trenches, and added an investigation of the piers flanking the nearby public restroom, probable site of the Temple of Vortumnus. 

AIRC and co- directors are working to conclude study and publish a long article on the investigations in 2017.  Please support our publication efforts! Take Action today.