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Giacomo Boni (25 April 1859 – 10 July 1925) was an Italian archaeologist specializing in Roman architecture. He is most famous for his work in the Roman Forum.[1]

Giacomo Boni
Giacomo Boni.jpg
Giacomo Boni by the Arch of Titus in Rome
Born(1859-04-25)25 April 1859
Died(1925-07-10)10 July 1925
Alma materAccademia di Belle Arti
Scientific career


Born in Venice, Boni studied architecture at the Accademia di Belle Arti in his native city and later moved to Rome. During World War I Boni participated as a soldier, and was elected senator in 1923, at which time he embraced fascism.

Boni died in Rome, and he is buried in the Orti Farnesiani on the Palatine Hill.



His early work as an architect involved him in the restoration of the Doge's Palace. During this time he demonstrated his technical skills.[2] In the 1880s, Boni met Horatio Brown, who became his colleague in a shared passion for antiquities.[3]


In 1888 Boni went to Rome, where in 1898 the Ministro della Pubblica Istruzione G. Baccelli named him director of excavations in the Forum Romanum. Boni directed this important project from 1898 until his death in 1925. He was interested in the stratigraphy of the Forum, an important advance in the science of Roman archaeology.

His excavations led to many important discoveries, including the Iron Age necropolis near the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Lapis Niger, the Regia,[4] Galleria Cesaree, Horrea Agrippiana, the shrine of Vesta,[5] and other monuments. In 1907 Boni also worked on the slope of the Palatine Hill where he discovered the Mundus (tholos-cistern), a complex of tunnels leading to the Casa dei Grifi, the so-called Aula Isiaca, the so-called Baths of Tiberius and the base of a hut under the peristyle of the Domus Flavia.

The excavations were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I and resumed in 1916.

Giacomo Boni in his study

Roman religion and fascismEdit

Boni developed a strong interest in the ancient Roman religion and wished to see it revived and some of its rituals restored and adopted by the Italian state. When the National Fascist Party came to power he viewed it as a chance for a pagan revival. He viewed fascism as connected to ancient Rome and agreed with Benito Mussolini's claim that fascism was a sort of continuation of the Roman Empire. Mussolini in turn supported Boni and appointed him as a senator. Boni's role in fascism would however not last long, as he died in 1925 and only lived through a few years of the fascist state. He was buried on the Palatine hill in an extraordinary ceremony organized by the regime. He is considered an early figure in what scholars later would label as "sacred fascism".[6]

Further readingEdit


  • ROMA - I FORI IMPERIALI. The Documentation and Dissemination of the Recent Archaeological Investigations and Related Studies of the Imperial Fora of Rome (1995 – 2008). on F... at Prof. Giacomo Boni, "The Public Library of the Forum Museum." THE TIMES (London), July 14, 1905, pg.4. From: Preface: Rome, the Imperial Fora, and Archaeology – ‘The Demanding and Difficult Work of the Archaeologists: To Excavate, Interpret, Classify and Inform.’ cf. Martin G. Conde, ROMA - I FORI IMPERIALI. The Documentation and Dissemination of the Recent Archaeological Investigations and Related Studies of the Imperial Fora of Rome (1995 – 2007).
  • P. Romanelli, s.v. “Boni Giacomo”, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana fondata da Giovanni Treccani), Roma 1970, pp. 75–77
  • A. Capodiferro, P. Fortini (a cura di), Gli scavi di Giacomo Boni al foro Romano, Documenti dall’Archivio Disegni della Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma I.1 (Planimetrie del Foro Romano, Gallerie Cesaree, Comizio, Niger Lapis, Pozzi repubblicani e medievali), Roma 2003.
  • Paola S. Salvatori, L’adozione del fascio littorio nella monetazione dell’Italia fascista, in «Rivista italiana di numismatica e scienze affini», CIX, 2008, pp. 333–352.
  • Paola S. Salvatori, Liturgie immaginate: Giacomo Boni e la romanità fascista, in "Studi Storici", LIII, 2012, 2, pp. 421–438.
  • "Trajan's column." Proceedings of the British Academy, London (1912). vol. 3 p. 93-98.
  • Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venezia. Venice: Stabilimento tipografico dei fratelli Vicentini, 1887.
  • La torre de S. Marco: communicazione. s.l. : s.n., 1903.
  • The Roman marmorarii. Rome: s.n., 1893.
  • "Il duomo di Parenzo ed i suoi mosaici." Archivio storico dell'Arte 7 (1894) [unnumbered, 28 pp.]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Becker, Jeffrey A. (2014). "Boni, Giacomo". In Smith, C. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. pp. 989–990. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1453. ISBN 978-1-4419-0426-3.
  2. ^ Giacomo Boni (1887). Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venezia. Fratelli Visentini.
  3. ^ Sandro Consolato, 'Giacomo Boni, l'archeologo-vate della Terza Roma', in 'Gianfranco De Turris, Esoterismo e Fascismo (2006)
  4. ^ Elisabetta Carnabuci (2013). Regia. Nuovi dati archeologici dagli appunti inediti di Giacomo Boni. Edizioni Quasar. ISBN 978-88-7140-499-8.
  5. ^ Giacomo Boni (1900). Le recenti esplorazioni nel Sacrario di Vesta. Tipografia della R. Accademia dei Lincei.
  6. ^ Francesco Buscemi (2019). "The Sin of Eating Meat: Fascism, Nazism and the Construction of Sacred Vegetarianism". David Gentilcore; Matthew Smith (eds.). Proteins, Pathologies and Politics: Dietary Innovation and Disease from the Nineteenth Century. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-3500-5686-2