Last week, we talked about the fascinating 3D rendering of the Pompeii disaster of 79 AD. Well this time around, we have decided to go the route of the eternal city itself – Rome. An incredible fruit of collaboration between the Rome Reborn project and Khan Academy, the video in question gives us a fascinating tour through the ancient mega city in its arguably peak form in 320 AD. In essence, this was the period when emperor Constantine was successful in once again centralizing the power of the state, while also endowing freedom of worship for Christians. In many ways, this short epoch of stability became the ‘last hurrah’ of glory for the ancient stronghold – before the Roman Empire was divided, and consequently Rome lost its significance in the coming centuries.
As overseer of the Rome Reborn project Dr. Bernard Frischer, makes it clear why 320 AD was chosen as the subject of the video tour –
[320 AD was] the peak of Rome’s development, certainly in terms of public architecture, for the simple reason that the Emperor at this time was Constantine the Great.
And even beyond just the ‘starring’ emperor, the period of Constantine is crucial for history because that was the time when Rome possibly reached the peak of its population (that easily crossed the threshold of a million people) and urban development. Moreover, even from the perspective of architectural triumphs, this period mirrored the rise of major Christian churches, while the post era (after 320 AD) defined the unfortunate abandonment of major engineering or constructional undertakings. Simply put, most of what we know about Rome in our modern age comes from this age, along with the glorious preceding years before the rise of Constantine.
There’s a massive plaster model of the city “in the age of the Emperor Constantine”, located in the Museo della Civiltà
Romana (The Museum of Roman Civilization) in the EUR in Rome. The same logic of using that period here was used for the model, as @disqus_7iM7CuKZT2:disqus suggests. The museum (& the whole EUR) is off the beaten path for tourists in Rome–it requires a bit of extra effort to get there, so it’s not as commonly visited as other museums in the city. Fun Fact: The model, made by Italo Gismondi, was commissioned by Mussolini for a 1937 exhibition commemorating the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the Emperor Augustus in 63 BC. Gismondi’s model is itself based on an impressive topographical atlas of Rome published by Rodolfo Lanciani in 1901.
Really, really nice. it would be great to have an interactive version of this so we could explore it more fully.
I agree with some other commenters here, that the audio track is poor quality – it detracts from what is otherwise a really great production
Not so sure about that. One or two in the last minute looks a bit run down.
Go to Hell
Narrators sound too gay, and their narcissism in this regard is regrettable and it detracts from the video.
Turn down the volume.
in audible- horrible sounding, but nice cgi
it all looks very clean and tidy. And one notices there’s no sign of the rickety apartment buildings that most people lived in, and that frequently fell down.
Peak meaning population size, complexity and number of structures present in the city. They are referring to the city not the empire as a whole and in that respect yes it is the peak.
The table there shows the city at its largest size between 1 and 320 CE. Choosing 320 allowed them to showcase every major structure that would be present before its decline.
Last hurrah is more fitting, this was by no means Rome’s peak.
Please digitally remove the vocal explosives and microphone bumps from the audio track. They make my ears hurt when I am using headphones.