for National Geographic News
Experts have digitally reconstructed one of Rome's earliest major temples, the Temple of Apollo, built by the first Roman emperor, Augustus.
The temple dates to 28 B.C., and its ruins stand adjacent to the emperor's imperial palaces on the city's famous Palatine Hill. (Read related story: "Sacred Cave of Rome's Founders Found, Scientists Say" [January 26, 2007].)
Until now the original design of the temple had not been well understood, partly due to the ruins' poor state of preservation.
Also, previous efforts to model the temple had been based on outdated historical assessments rather than on the ruins themselves.
Stephan Zink, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studied the site and its archaeological remains to produce new measurements and other data to accurately recreate the temple.
"This reconstruction provides an entirely new reference point—not only for archaeologists and scholars of Augustan temple design, but also for ancient historians and classicists," Zink said.
The Augustan period of the Roman Empire, from about 43 B.C. to A.D. 18, saw a flowering of activity in science, politics, technology, and architecture.
The Temple of Apollo was Augustus' first temple project and may have played a role in the emperor's effort to secure his power.
"The new reconstruction closes a substantial gap in our knowledge on the architectural history of the time and opens up possibilities for reassessing many aspects of Augustan culture," Zink said.
He presented his findings at the January meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.
Then and Now
Zink conducted summer fieldwork at Palatine Hill from 2005 through 2007. He studied the temple's surviving foundation and marble fragments found scattered around the site.
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