There are few periods in European history that have affected its social and political development as the period between the beginning of Roman imperial era and its transition to Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, when some of the key fundamental structures that defined political and religious power, imperial power and the papacy, were developed and institutionalised.

Alongside the Palatine-Forum complex and the Vatican, Rome’s Eastern Caelian embodies these changes in its architecture and in the regenerations of its urban scape.  Here, political, military and religious powers were materialized by buildings that reflected the notion of imperial and religious power: the large imperial complex of the Severan Horti Spei Veteris, closely controlled  by the emperor’s guards that stationed in the Castra Priora and in the Castra Nova Equitum Singularium; the subsequent Constantinian development of the horti into the Sessorian palace and Basilica of the Holy Cross complex to the east and in the newly funded Basilica of the Saviour and Lateran Baptistry complex to the west, and finally, the development of the Episcopal Palace, the Medieval residence of the Pope.

This pattern of political, military and religious transformations intertwined with the subsequent demographic variations, reflecting in an increased presence of shops, workshops and facilities such as bath complexes, in an area previously almost exclusively funerary and residential and likely witnessed changes in property investment, reflecting the increased imperial and later papal involvement in the area.

By a careful reassessment of the archaeology and the incorporation of new data from geophysical survey and environmental analysis, Rome Transformed will assess the urban regeneration of the Eastern Caelian in centuries 1-8 CE by looking at four main questions:

Thea Ravasi