Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Basilica Aemilia Onine

The Basilica Aemilia
Christine Ertel - Klaus Stefan Freyberger - Kathrin Tacke – T. Bitterer, The Basilica Aemilia on the Forum Romanum in Rome. Focus of public life.
According to Livius (40, 51, 4-5), the original building was inaugurated by the censors M. Aemilius Lepidus and M. Fulvius Nobilior 179 B.C. The basilica was a single-story construction with a nave and two aisles on either side. The construction material was tuff, a local type of volcanic rock, and also travertine, limestone, which originated from Tivoli. Several fire disasters made it necessary to restore and renew the building. In the early years of the 1st century B.C., the basilica was converted into a two-story building. It was completely renovated under the reign of Augustus after a fire in 14 A.D. without fundamentally changing the form of the previous buildings, but by using a different material: marble from Luni. The floor of the nave was decorated with precious polychrome marble while the floor of the side aisles was covered with white marble. The marble cladding of the inside walls were also decorated with reliefs of pentelic marble, representing significant scenes of the founding history of Rome. The portico facing the forum had a lavish façade with doric columns crowned by a high attic. The outer side of the attic showed sumptuous sculptural decorations. In the center of the parapet plates were the imagines clipeatae, showing probably Parthian officials. Those were flanked by monumental barbarian statues sculpted from coloured marble. Even though it is not possible to clearly reconstruct the statuary type of the barbarians, it is likely that those statues also showed Parthian officials, symbolising a nation subjected by the Romans. They refer to Augustus’ not only military but also diplomatic victory concluding a peace treaty with the Parthians in 20 B.C. Above the portico and the shops there was a monumental terrace, which, in the rear part, was surmounted by a loggia, decorated by the well-known pillars with tendril motives. In all probability, this terrace is to be identified with the maeniana mentioned by ancient authors. From the maeniana it was possible to watch the activities on the Forum Romanum but it was also used as a spectators' stand for celebrations and processions.
Manuscript of Heinrich Bauer

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