arch of trajan


Arch of Trajan

Timgad, Algeria

2nd century CE

12 m.  in height

The three vaulted arch composed the western gate of the city, at the beginning of the decumanus maximus and the end of the road coming from Lambaesis.

The arch reaches a height of 12 metres, with a central arch of 6 metres in height which permitted the passage of vehicles that have left deep ruts in the ground under the archway).

The lateral arches, each 3.75 metres high, were reserved for pedestrians. Above the lateral arches on both sides are deep rectangular niches, framed by aediculae with smooth-stemmed Corinthian columns of coloured marble supported by shelves. The niches were designed to hold statues which are now lost. The whole assemblage of each lateral arch and niche was framed by two red corinthian columns, detached from the walls and supported by pedestals. The entablature that runs across the wall above the lateral arches, protrudes above the columns and a curvilinear pediment rests on it in turn. The attic must have been surmounted with a group of monumental statues.

Other sculpture was added to the arch in later times. This includes a statue of Mars and one of Concordia erected under Emperor Septimius Severus by Lucius Licinius Optatianus, on the occasion of his election as flamen-for-life of the colonia.


Arch of Trajan

Ancona, Italy

100—116 CE

18.5 m. in height

The Arch of Trajan in Ancona is a Triumphal arch erected by the Senate and people of Rome in the reign of Emperor Trajan. It was built in honour of that Emperor after he expanded the port of the city out of his own pocket, improving the docks and the fortifications. It was from here that Trajan departed for the ultimately successful war against the Dacians, an episode which is commemorated in the bas relief of Trajan’s column in Rome.

The arch was the work of the Syrian architect Apollodorus of Damascus. Made from Turkish marble (from the quarries of Marmara Island), it stands 18.5 metres high on a high podium approached by a wide flight of steps. The archway, only 3 m wide, is flanked by pairs of fluted Corinthian columns on pedestals. An attic bears inscriptions. The format is that of the Arch of Titus in Rome, but made taller, so that the bronze figures surmounting it, of Trajan on horseback, his wife Plotina and sister Marciana, would be a landmark for ships approaching Rome’s greatest Adriatic port.


Archaeology: A Secret History - BBC Four

Episode 1 “In the Beginning”

The Arch of Trajan in Ancona is a Roman Triumphal Arch erected at the beginning of the 2nd century AD in honour of Emperor Trajan. 

The marble arch, work of the Syrian architect Apollodorus of Damascus, was built as part of an ambitious project to create a major sea port linking Ancona with other Adriatic and eastern Mediterranean cities. Trajan devoted much attention to the construction and improvement of harbours.

The arch has a single high archway and it is flanked on each side by two pairs of Corinthian columns on pedestals and it was topped by bronze statues of Trajan, his wife and sister. Its inscription, originally in bronze letters, reports that the Senate and people dedicated the arch to Trajan: “providentissimo principi quod accessum Italiae hoc etiam addito ex pecunia sua portu tutiorem navigantibus reddiderit” - (who has) given ships safer access to Italy with the construction of this port at his own expense-.

Trajan’s Arch is depicted in a scene in the bass relief of Trajan’s column in Rome, where the Roman army leaves Italy to fight in the Second Dacian War.

One of the greatest pioneers of Renaissance archaeology, Ciriaco de’ Pizzicolli (or Cyriacus of Ancona), a humanist and antiquarian obsessed with ancient buildings, observed Trajan’s arch and its ancient inscription. Pizzicolli didn’t know any Latin but he could make out one word: “Trajano”. He immediately wanted to know more, who Trajan was and the reason the arch was built. He eagerly studied Latin and set off on a mission to discover more of the ancient past all across the Mediterranean.

Ancona, Italy