The first comprehensive examination of the Roman Forum in late antiquity, this book explores the cultural significance of restoring monuments and statues in the city’s preeminent public space, demonstrating shifts in patronage, political power, historical associations, and aesthetics.
In The Restoration of the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity, Gregor Kalas examines architectural conservation during late antiquity period at Rome’s most important civic center: the Roman Forum. During the fourth and fifth centuries CE—when emperors shifted their residences to alternate capitals and Christian practices overtook traditional beliefs—elite citizens targeted restoration campaigns so as to infuse these initiatives with political meaning. Since construction of new buildings was a right reserved for the emperor, Rome’s upper echelon funded the upkeep of buildings together with sculptural displays to gain public status. Restorers linked themselves to the past through the fragmentary reuse of building materials and, as Kalas explores, proclaimed their importance through prominently inscribed statues and monuments, whose placement within the existing cityscape allowed patrons and honorees to connect themselves to the celebrated history of Rome.
Building on art historical studies of spolia and exploring the Forum over an extended period of time, Kalas demonstrates the mutability of civic environments. The Restoration of the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity maps the evolution of the Forum away from singular projects composed of new materials toward an accretive and holistic design sensibility. Overturning notions of late antiquity as one of decline, Kalas demonstrates how perpetual reuse and restoration drew on Rome’s venerable past to proclaim a bright future.
- List of Illustrations
- List of Abbreviations
- Introduction: The Late Antique Roman Forum under Restoration
- 1. Collective Identity and Renewed Time in the Tetrarchic Roman Forum
- 2. Constantine the Restorer
- 3. Statues in the Late Antique Roman Forum
- 4. Restored Basilicas and Statues on the Move
- 5. The Contested Eternity of Temples
- 6. Rome’s Senatorial Complex and the Late Antique Transformation of the Elite
- Conclusion: Public Space in Late Antiquity
“An interesting book, which puts forward an important and innovative agenda for the study of Late Antique Rome.”
“The Restoration of the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity is a well-researched, clearly argued, and perceptive analysis that is simultaneously a nuanced interpretation of a significant historical civic center and an overview of how evolving microchanges to urban environments recalibrate contemporary aesthetics and memories.”
Diane Favro, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, UCLA