Servian Wall

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The Servian Wall (Latin: Murus Servii Tullii; Italian: Mura Serviane) was an ancient Roman defensive barrier constructed around the city of Rome in the early 4th century BCE. The wall was built of volcanic tuff and was up to 10 m (33 ft) in height in places, 3.6 m (12 ft) wide at its base, 11 km (6.8 mi) long,[1] and is believed to have had 16 main gates, though none survive, and it enclosed a total area of 608 acres. In the 3rd century CE it was superseded by the construction of the larger Aurelian Walls as the city of Rome grew beyond the boundary of the Servian Wall.

Servian Wall
Rome, Italy
Servian Wall-Termini Station.jpg
A preserved section of Servian Wall next to Termini railway station.
Map of ancient Rome.svg
A map of Rome showing the seven Hills of Rome (pink), the Servian Wall (blue) and its gates. The Aurelian Walls (red) were constructed in the 3rd century AD.
TypeDefensive wall
HeightUp to 10 metres (33 ft)
Site information
Open to
the public
Open to public.
ConditionRuinous. Fragmentary remains
Site history
Built4th century BC
MaterialsTuff
EventsSecond Punic War
Garrison information
OccupantsRomans

HistoryEdit

The wall is named after the sixth Roman King, Servius Tullius. The literary tradition stating that there was some type of defensive wall or earthen works that encircled the city of Rome dating to the 6th century BCE has been found to be false[2]. The main extent of the Servian Wall was built in the early 4th century, during what is known as the Roman Republic.

ConstructionEdit

The Servian Wall was originally built from large blocks of Cappellaccio tuff (a volcanic rock made from ash and rock fragments that are ejected during a volcanic eruption) that was quarried from Alban Hills volcanic complex.[3] After the Romans defeated Veii in the 390s the superior Grotta Oscura tuff was used instead. This tuff was quarried by the vanquished Veientines.[4] In addition to the tuff blocks, some sections of the structure incorporated a deep fossa, or a ditch, in front of the wall, as a means to effectively heighten the wall.

Along part of the topographically weaker Northern perimeter was an agger, a defensive ramp of earth that was built up along the inside of the Servian Wall. This effectively thickened the wall and also gave the defenders of Rome a base to stand while repelling an attack. The wall was also outfitted with defensive war engines, including catapults[5].

UsageEdit

The Servian Wall was maintained through the end of the Late Republic and into the Roman Empire. By this time, Rome had already begun to outgrow the original boundaries of the Servian Wall.

The Servian Wall became unnecessary as Rome became well protected by the ever-expanding strength of the field armies Republic and of the later Empire. As the city continued to grow and prosper, Rome was essentially unwalled for the first three centuries of the Empire. Expanding domestic structures simply incorporated existing wall sections into their foundations, an example of which survives in the Auditorium of Maecenas.[6] When German tribes made further incursions along the Roman frontier in the 3rd century CE, Emperor Aurelian had the larger Aurelian Walls built to protect the city of Rome.[7]

Present dayEdit

 
in via di Sant Anselmo

Several sections of the Servian Wall are still visible in various locations around the city of Rome. The largest section is preserved outside the Termini Station, the main railway station in Rome (including a section in a McDonald's dining area at the station). Another notable section on the Aventine which incorporates an arch that was supposedly for a defensive catapult from the late Republic[8].

 
in via Salandra

Gates along the Servian WallEdit

 
The Porta Esquilina was originally a gateway in the Servian Wall. In the later Roman Empire, it became known as the arch of Gallienus and was the starting point of the via Labicana and via Tiburtina.

The following lists the gates that are believed to have been built, clockwise from the westernmost. (Many of these are inferred only from writings, with no known remains.)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Fields, Nic; Peter Dennis The Walls of Rome Osprey Publishing; 10 Mar 2008 ISBN 978-1-84603-198-4 p.10.
  2. ^ Carter, Jesse Benedict (1909). The evolution of the city of Rome from its origin to the Gallic catastrophe. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. p. 10.
  3. ^ Panei, Liliana. "The tuffs of the "Servian Wall"". Archeo-Sciences.
  4. ^ Forythe, Gary (2005). A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War. University of California.
  5. ^ "Notes on the Servian Wall". American Journal of Archaeology.
  6. ^ Kontokosta, Anne (January 2019). "Building the Thermae Agrippae: Private Life, Public Space, and the Politics of Bathing in Early Imperial Rome". American Journal of Archaeology. 123 (1): 45–77.
  7. ^ Watson, pp. 51–54, 217.
  8. ^ "Notes on the Servian Wall". American Journal of Archaeology.

BibliographyEdit

  • Watson, Alaric (1999). Aurelian and the Third Century. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-07248-4.
  • Coarelli, Filippo (1989). Guida Archeologica di Roma. Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Milano.
  • Watson, Alaric (1999). Aurelian and the Third Century. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-07248-4.
  • Coarelli, Filippo (1989). Guida Archeologica di Roma. Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Milano.
  • Carter, Jesse Benedict. "The Evolution of the City of Rome from Its Origin to the Gallic Catastrophe." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 48, no. 192 (1909): 136. www.jstor.org/stable/984151
  • Claridge, Amanda. Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2010. Oxford Archaeological Guides
  • Forsythe, Gary. 2005. A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War. Berkeley: University of California Press
  • Merrill, Elmer Truesdell. "The City of Servius and the Pomerium." Classical Philology 4, no. 4 (1909): 420-32. www.jstor.org/stable/262369
  • Showerman, Grant. 1969. Rome and the Romans: A Survey and Interpretation. New York: Cooper Square

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 41°54′06″N 12°30′06″E / 41.90167°N 12.50167°E / 41.90167; 12.50167