arch of trajan

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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.

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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

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Ancient Worlds - BBC Two 

Episode 5 “The Republic of Virtue”

The Arch of Trajan is an ancient Roman triumphal arch in Benevento, southern Italy. It was erected between 114 - 117  AD to celebrate the completion of the Via Trajana, connecting Rome with Brundisium (modern Brindisi). The Via Appia had ended at Capua; the Appia Trajana extended the road to Brundisium

The arch has a single, barrel-vaulted archway. Its bas relief sculptures portray the life and military adventures of the emperor Trajan. In the attic on each facade the large dedicatory inscriptions are flanked by two relief panels, one shows the emperor either arriving at or leaving Rome and the Capitoline Triad, and the other makes reference to the emperor’s conquests in Dacia. A continuous frieze runs around the arch at a level just above the top of the central bay. Two large reliefs decorate the walls inside the bay of the arch. On the north side a scene of sacrifice commemorates the opening of the Via Traiana. On the south side we see the emperor overseeing the handing out of money to poor children while the personifications of four cities look on. This is a reference to the emperor’s Alimenta, a welfare program that helped orphans and poor children throughout Italy.

Benevento, Italy.