Rome Reborn

Built at a scale of 1:250 and measuring more than 250 square feet, the Plastico di Roma Antica is a plaster model of the ancient city of Rome housed in the Museum of Roman Civilization. It depicts the city in the early fourth century, when its population was about 1 million.

A still from the digital model shows the western end of the Forum, with the Arch of Septimius Severus at right, three temples behind it (see plan, below left), and the Rostra, or speakers' platform, in front. Th

The Rostra (which means "prows" in Latin) was so called on account of the bronze prows of enemy warships that were mounted on it as trophies.

Unlike the fragmentary site today, the Roman Forum in A.D. 320 was imposing, dense with richly decorated temples and monuments.

Paved in yellow, red, green, and purple marbles in a pattern of circles and squares, the floor of the Basilica Maxentius recaptures its original splendor in the Rome Reborn model.

The grandeur of the structure, however, is still clear from the physical remains: coffered barrel vaults stand 80 feet high.

The three arches stretched alongside the nave indicate the basilica's immense size before the rest likely collapsed in an earthquake in A.D. 847.

Social stratification: The Colosseum's four tiers of spectator seating inverted the class structure of Roman society, with top-ranking senators getting the lowest, closest tier; knights occupying the secondlowest; ordinary citizens above them; and the poor and slaves at the top.

Under the wooden floor of the arena is a warren of holding cells for men and animals.

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