The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

3.8 (50 ratings by Goodreads)
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One of the most visited sites in Italy, the Roman Forum is also one of the best-known wonders of the Roman world. Though a highpoint on the tourist route around Rome, for many visitors the site can be a baffling disappointment. Several of the monuments turn out to be nineteenth- or twentieth-century reconstructions, while the rubble and the holes made by archaeologists have an unclear relationship to the standing remains, and, to all but the most skilled Romanists, the Forum is an unfortunate mess.

David Watkin sheds completely new light on the Forum, examining the roles of the ancient remains while revealing what exactly the standing structures embody-including the rarely studied medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque churches, as well as the nearby monuments that have important histories of their own. Watkin asks the reader to look through the veneer of archaeology to rediscover the site as it was famous for centuries. This involves offering a remarkable and engaging new vision of a well-visited, if often misunderstood, wonder. It will be enjoyed by readers at home and serve as a guide in the Forum.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 114 x 184 x 22.86mm | 258.55g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • 0674066308
  • 9780674066304
  • 517,808

Review quote

Offers a compact but comprehensive course, intended for sophisticated history buffs and travelers, on the history of the Forum...To help the tourist avoid confusion, Watkin embarks on a detailed tour of the place, revealing which structures--or, rather, portions of structures--are truly left from ancient Rome and which have been additions built over the course of the years since the fall of the Roman Empire. Systematic, knowledgeable, and even enthusiastic: just the formula to completely engage the reader wanting to know more about ancient Rome. -- Brad Hooper Booklist 20090915 For a walk through the Forum both in space and history, choose David Watkin's The Roman Forum...There are many books on Rome, but few as deeply urbane. -- Tom D'Evelyn Providence Journal 20091115 Edited by classicist Mary Beard, The Wonders of the World book series from Harvard University Press offers architecturally oriented views of various sites, ranging from the Alhambra to the Parthenon to St. Peters. The attractive books are hand-sized, cloth-bound, and illustrated with maps, photographs, engravings, and elevations, making them ideal for the armchair traveler. Architectural Record 20091201 [Watkin] treats readers to an incisive and insightful history of the Forum with a focus on its evolution following the fall of the Roman Empire. In The Roman Forum, he deftly illuminates the fascinating changes that this once sacred space has undergone in the last millennium, and argues that our modern perception of the Forum, dictated by archaeological pursuits, tends to obscure those aspects of the Forum that are truly impressive. The Roman Forum is the latest entry in the Wonders of the World series from Harvard University Press, which provides in-depth, scholarly explorations of very specific subjects like the Rosetta stone or the Coliseum. Watkin's work in this volume is clearly a labor of love; his sincere appreciation for the Forum and for classical architecture at large is evident, and his expertise helps render an easily navigable portrait of the Forum in four dimensions. He traces the shifting attitudes and pivotal events that have shaped the Roman Forum from late antiquity, through the Middle Ages, all the way to the present day. -- Michael Patrick Brady 20091216 Though not strictly modern--well, not modern at all, really--the Wonders of the World series of books from Harvard Universtiy Press remains my favorite ongoing run of architectural tomes. Classicist Mary Beard is the series editor, and each of these trim volumes takes up the subject of a particular building. Ranging from Stonehenge to the Parthenon to the Temple of Jerusalem, imagine these scholarly works as biographies of buildings...[You should] race to add the newly released Roman Forum and Piazza San Marco to your collection...The well-illustrated little book traces the Forum from antiquity to today, and serves as an able roadmap to the historical eras and ideologies written across what may have been the most striking expression of Roman architecture. Popes, plunderers and preservationists all play roles in this book, and it's an ideal stocking stuffer for those who take their architecture with a solid dose of intellectual rigor. And that the book will tuck nicely into a blazer pocket is only a welcome bonus... Be sure to pick up the entire set yourself. I'm awfully glad I've got mine, and can't wait to tuck into the next one. -- Aaron Britt 20091215 An entertaining combination of travel guide, history and polemic. -- Francis X. Rocca Wall Street Journal 20110326
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About David Watkin

David Watkin is Emeritus Professor of the History of Architecture at the University of Cambridge.
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Rating details

50 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 24% (12)
4 40% (20)
3 28% (14)
2 8% (4)
1 0% (0)
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