Review – The Roman Forum

Posted December 16, 2018 by Nicky in Reviews / 1 Comment

Cover of The Roman Forum by David Watkin

The Roman Forum, David Watkin

Most books about the Roman Forum would tend to focus on the Roman period itself, but this rather fascinatingly did a survey through time — not only the classical Roman period origins of the Forum, but the transformations over the years since. The authors strongly feels the importance of seeing the Forum as a living place, somewhere that developed since the time of the Roman Empire, so he spends much time lovingly describing the churches built on the site as well. It’s an approach I definitely appreciate: it’s ridiculous to try and stop the clock of the Forum at the end of the Empire, or to think it was always just one thing throughout that period either. We can’t turn the clock back, so the Forum is best embraced for what it is, rather than attempting to freeze it in time.

I did find this book fascinating, but my one quibble is that the author is almost aggressively against archaeology. He complains frequently about excavation in the forum. And yes, some of it has been done destructively, and I do disagree with trying to tear down anything that was built since Constantine reigned (or whatever your chosen marker point might be). But at the same time, archaeology can be of great value, and I would also be sad if the Forum were to be barred to archaeologists.

Rating: 3/5

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One response to “Review – The Roman Forum

  1. It took me a moment to realise you were talking about THE forum in Rome and not just fora (?) in general. I think I’d like to read more about the forum as it appeared and developed around the Empire, as much as about the higgledy piggledy one that remains in the Eternal City. (Somewhere I have a small chunk of paving stone from the Forum, picked up with great guilt sometime last century. Don’t know if I’ve since chucked it out… Horrors!)

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