hodges-travel-2012-08 - The American University of Rome


hodges-travel-2012-08 - The American University of Rome







main image Room with a view:

looking out across Rome from

my new office at the American

University of Rome.

middle Now a tarmac road,

this was once route of the Aqua

Traiana, which fed one of the many

Roman water mills along its path.

left The Gianiculum (or

Janiculum) is the second-highest

hill in Rome, lying along the west

bank of the Tiber beyond the city

limits of ancient Rome.


As they did, American fellows and professors gazed down,

somewhat amazed as the brick-built alignment of the Aqua

Traiana became clear to all and, beside it, the simple installation

for one of the many Roman-period watermills that lay along its

line. The barest settings, coins, and potsherds showed that this

was a 3rd-century undershot mill that had been abandoned by

the 5th century AD, a century before the Goths allegedly cut the

water-supply, thereby forcing the Emperor Justinian’s general,

Belisarius, to transfer other such mills from the Gianiculum to

floating mills on the Tiber.

On this sunny spring day, my most cherished memory is of

Lucas Cozza, an archaeologist of Rome who had the grace and

venerable topographic knowledge of

an Enlightenment abbot, sketching

intently. As I approached him, he

smiled knowingly, drawing from his

pocket a crisp photostat of a drawing

made by Rodolfo Lanciani, Rome’s

greatest archaeologist and a good

friend of Lucas’s father. Made on the

2 March 1886, it showed pretty clearly

that Lanciani had recorded much the

same section of the aqueduct with

its mills while he was preparing his

masterwork, the Forma Urbis Romae.

Roman record

It was Lanciani’s published legacy

that led me to my other excavation

experience in Rome. Rodolfo Lanciani

seldom excavated; he concentrated on recording Roman remains

unearthed in the massive construction projects as Rome was made

once more into a capital city following the unification of Italy.

But outside the Porta Pia, on the north side of the city, he made

some important excavations in the Villa Patizi, which he published

in exceptional detail for the time. Now, as it happened, the British

Embassy lies in a gloriously secluded small park just inside the

Porta Pia, a great gate refashioned by Michelangelo in 1564.

Opinion is divided about the brutal modernist style of Sir

Basil Spence’s British Embassy, but before it was erected in 1963

the British School carried out some small-scale excavations.

Perched on concrete piers, the new charmless chancery building

right The Porta Pia crew prepare to

excavate in 1992, ahead of construction

work for the new British Embassy in Rome.

www.world-archaeology.com CurrentWorldArchaeology 57

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