roman monuments



Carnuntum, Austria

4th century CE

15 m. in height

Between 354 CE and 361 CE a huge triumphal monument was erected next to the camp and city. Contemporary reports suggest that Emperor Constantius II had it built to commemorate his victories. When the remains of Carnuntum disappeared after the Migration Period the monument remained as an isolated building in a natural landscape and led Medieval people to believe it was the tomb of a pagan giant. Hence, they called it “Heidentor” (pagan gate). 


Pompey’s Pillar  

Alexandria, Egypt

300 CE

30 m. high

Its name is misleading. This single column standing on a rocky hilltop in the middle of Alexandria has nothing to do with the Roman Consul and General Gaius Pompey who was Julius Caesar’s rival in a civil war and was murdered by a Ptolomaic pharaoh in 48 BC when he fled to Alexandria.

This legend was started by Crusaders, who thought the 100-foot (30 meter) red Aswan granite pillar marked his burial site. The pillar is instead the a triumphal monument erected around 300 CE for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, but the true significance of this archeological site is what stood here before the pillar.
It is the site of the Serapeum, Alexandria’s acropolis. 


Mausoleum of the Candia

Aquileia, Italy

1st century CE

The mausoleum, reconstructed within the ancient city in 1956, was discovered in pieces in the Roncolon area along the Roman road to Tergeste (Trieste). It comprises an enclosure protected by two lions, with a high base with relief decorations, surmounted by a circular, temple-like structure that guards the statue of the toga-clad deceased. Although heavily patched up with modern materials, the mausoleum is an example of a great Augustan burial monument, one that would have belonged to an eminent figure in the city. 

Silver Denarius: issued by Julius Caesar when he was fighting a civil war with the supporters of Pompey. It shows a kind of victory monument the Romans set up on battlefields. The equipment shown here is typical of the Celts of Gaul. The political message is clear: ‘Support me, I am the man who conquered Gaul for you’.

Roman, 48 BC - 47 BC


Roman Monuments: The Pantheon as it appears today was rebuilt (after the previous temple on this location burnt down) by emperor Hadrian in 126 AD.

For more than 1700 years, its cupola was the largest in the world. A special blend of Roman concrete was used for the construction, explaining its toughness and the reduced weight of the whole structure. By 609 AD, the Pantheon was used as a Christian church. Nowadays, it is one of the best preserved structures from Roman times, and still a marvellous example of architectural and engineering brilliance.


The Temple of Venus and Roma


135 AD

31 m. tall, 145 m. in length, 100 m. in width

The Temple of Venus and Roma (Latin: Templum Veneris et Romae) is thought to have been the largest temple in Ancient Rome. Located on the Velian Hill, between the eastern edge of the Forum Romanum and the Colosseum, it was dedicated to the goddesses Venus Felix (“Venus the Bringer of Good Fortune”) and Roma Aeterna (“Eternal Rome”). The architect was the emperor Hadrian and construction began in 121. It was officially inaugurated by Hadrian in 135, and finished in 141 under Antoninus Pius. Damaged by fire in 307, it was restored with alterations by the emperor Maxentius.

“While we are swept onward upon the stream of physical time, we move at the rhythm of the inner processes constituting physiological duration. Indeed, we are not mere grains of dust floating on a river. But also drops of oil spreading out over the surface of the water with a motion of their own, while being borne along by the current. Physical time is foreign to us, whereas inner time is ourself. Our present does not drop into nothingness as does the present of a pendulum. It is recorded simultaneously in mind, tissues, and blood. We keep within ourselves the organic, humoral, and psychological marks of all the events of our life. Like a nation, like an old country, like the cities, the factories, the farms, the cultivated fields, the Gothic cathedrals, the feudal castles, the Roman monuments of Europe, we are the result of a history. Our personality is enriched by each new experience of our organs, humors, and consciousness. Each thought, each action, each illness, has definitive consequences, inasmuch as we never separate ourselves from our past. We may completely recover from a disease, or from a wrong deed. But we bear forever the scar of those events.”  — Alexis Carrel


Tombs of the Trebi

Aquileia, Italy

1st - 3rd centuries CE

A small cemetery has been found outside the western limit of Aquileia. It consists of five enclosures separated by brick walls. The sarcophagi/monuments in each enclosure belonged to members of the same family.
A small sculpture (original at the Archaeological Museum) portrays a (dead) woman being comforted by Psyche, a very young girl with wings who accompanied the dead to the underworld. 

Many of the sarcophagi/monuments are finely decorated. Some of their reliefs show jars, most likely a reference to funerary ceremonies. A relief with dolphins around a trident, which was very popular in many contexts, when placed on a tomb might have indicated that the dead was a seaman or a ship owner or that he was about to begin his last journey to beyond the Pillars of Hercules, which the living were not allowed to cross.


Tropaeum Alpium (Victory Monument of the Alps)

La Turbie, France


49 m. in height

The Trophy was built in honor of the emperor Augustus to celebrate his definitive victory over the 45 ancient tribes who populated the Alps. The Alpine populations were defeated during the military campaign to subdue the Alps conducted by the Romans between 16 and 7 BC.

When built the base measured 35 meters in length, the first platform 12 meters in height, and the rotunda of 24 columns with its statue of an enthroned Augustus is 49 metres high


Umm el-Omad (“mother of all needles”)

Wadi Nefud, Libya

200-400 CE

The tombs offers a couple of suprises. The Corinthian columns are completely Roman, but the shape of the monuments is Punic. The epitaph, for example, is flanked by two eagles, which is customary in this area. The false doors have their closest parallel in the art of ancient Egypt. Oddly, the false door in the northern monument faces the southeast, and not - as one would have expected - the west, the realm of the dead. Perhaps the person who lies buried here, a man named Ben Hamdan, wanted to connect his tomb to the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus), which in December rises in the southeast.