Trajan’s Column: Detailed 3D Reconstruction Of The Roman Triumphal Column

Trajan's Column

A Brief History of Trajan’s Column –

Trajan's Column

A monument erected in commemoration of Emperor Trajan’s victory over the Dacians (who lived in what is now modern Romania) in two military campaigns, Trajan’s Column was completed in the year of circa 113 AD – incidentally when the Roman Empire reached its greatest geographical extent. Located in what is now Trajan’s Forum (north of the Roman Forum), the triumphal architectural project was possibly achieved under the supervision of Apollodorus of Damascus, a Syrian-Greek architect. 

And interestingly enough, while Trajan’s Column was probably the first of its kind, the free-standing structure has inspired a lot of other triumphal projects and victory columns, even in our modern times. More importantly, from the historical perspective, the spiral bas reliefs of the monument do provide a wealth of context (albeit some in stylized nature) about the arms, armor, and equipment of the early 2nd century Roman soldiers and their foes. 

Vital Statistics and Features –

Trajan's Column

As for the architectural scope, Trajan’s Column has an overall height of around 120-125 ft (approximately 36 m – including the pedestal) and a diameter of 12.1 ft (3.7 m), and as such, is composed of a series of 19 or 20 Carrara marble drums, each weighing a mighty 32 tons. The frieze (section containing the bas reliefs) uniquely runs around the shaft in a spiral manner for 23 times, thereby covering an impressive expanse of 620 ft (190 m). This arrangement allows the structure to narratively represent around a whopping 2,600 figures via 155 scenes from the Dacian Wars. Furthermore, a 16-ft high bronze statue of Emperor Trajan stood atop the triumphal column – but was since replaced by that of St. Peter in 1588 AD. 

Reconstruction of The Trajan’s Column –

 

The fascinatingly vibrant recreation was achieved by the resourceful folks over at the ‘History in 3D’ team. We have previously covered what might just be the most detailed reconstruction of the city of Rome itself (in circa 320 AD). In their own words –

The ‘History in 3D’ creative team continues working on a virtual reconstruction of ancient Rome. Our goal is to carry out this project at a new qualitative level using modern available data and technical capabilities. Some time ago, three video trailers about Rome in 3D reconstruction have already been released on our YouTube channel, representing the various stages of work on the reconstruction. Since the recent video was released, a lot of work has been done to update and expand the content, and we believe that the project has been transformed crucially and reached a new level of quality.

The column of Trajan was and still remains one of the most outstanding monuments located in the center of Rome. For centuries, it remains a mute witness of the outstanding past of the great empire. Its reliefs dedicated to the Dacian Wars are a valuable and interesting historical source. In this regard, we could not help paying special attention to the reconstruction of the column in order to show, as qualitatively and authentically as possible, how this monument might have looked in antiquity.

We are pleased to present the result of long months of working – for the first time in the world, a completely polychromatic reconstruction of the Trajan’s column was completed, with detailed restoration and completely colorized reliefs of the column and pedestal. We believe that we were able to carry out this work at a high level by working through a number of historical sources and studying the historical background.

You have an opportunity to have a look at the reconstruction of the column and peristyle of the Trayan forum by viewing our new video trailer, which has been made using new visualization tools. We hope that this work will be appreciated by the public, and this column will take its place as the pearl of our project of the reconstruction of the center of the Eternal City.

As for the project in general, the progress on preparing an application for release is nearing completion, and in the coming months, the application will be released where the central part of the city will be available for a walkthrough with access to the most iconic monuments and interiors. Their reconstruction will be carried out at the same level of quality, like the column of Trajan. A separate application is also planned for the Trajan’s column itself, where users will be able to explore detailed painted scenes of the spiral relief scene by scene.

We are grateful to all those who have been following and interested in the development of our project over the years. Stay with us! In the near future, you will find a lot of interesting news and updates from our team!

Thanks, Danila Loginov and the ‘History in 3D’ team.

Images Credit: Danila Loginov

About the Author

Dattatreya Mandal
Dattatreya Mandal has a bachelor's degree in Architecture (and associated History of Architecture) and a fervent interest in History. Formerly, one of the co-owners of an online architectural digest, he is currently the founder/editor of Realmofhistory.com. The latter is envisaged as an online compendium that mirrors his enthusiasm for ancient history, military, mythology, and historical evolution of architecture.
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