The glory of Rome: depictions of architecture on the Column of Trajan Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Wolfram, Elizabeth
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Classics
  • Over three hundred depictions of architectural structures appear throughout the Column of Trajan frieze, illustrating both Roman and Dacian fortifications and settlements. These depictions have seen little thematic analysis in previous scholarship. I argue that the architecture on the Column draws a purposeful contrast between superior Roman civilization and primitive, barbarian Dacian culture. Most architecture on the frieze is too generic to serve as any specific topographical marker. Rather, depictions of civilian settlements favor building types (amphitheater, monumental arch) and construction techniques (ashlar masonry, concrete vaulting, columnar façade) that immediately associate the peaceful towns with Roman urbanism. Likewise, the unrealistic but consistent depiction of all Roman fortifications as stone-built emphasizes their permanence and technical achievement. Dacian architecture, meanwhile, only accounts for roughly one-fourth of the frieze's architectural representations. Clearly non-Roman building types and wooden constructions, often shown in flames, effectively imply the inferiority and transience of Dacian civilization.
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  • Truemper, Monika
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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