Trajan's Forum was the last of the Imperial fora to be constructed in ancient Rome. The architect Apollodorus of Damascus oversaw its construction.
This forum was built on the order of the emperor Trajan with the spoils of war from the conquest of Dacia, which ended in 106. The Fasti Ostienses state that the Forum was inaugurated in 112, while Trajan's Column was erected and then inaugurated in 113.
The Forum consisted of a vast portico-lined piazza measuring 300 metres (980 feet) long and 185 metres (607 feet) wide, with exedrae on two sides. The main entrance is at the north end of the piazza, which was cobbled with rectangular blocks of white marble and decorated by a large equestrian statue of Trajan. On either side of the piazza are markets, also housed by the exedrae.
North of the Basilica was a smaller piazza, with a temple dedicated to the deified Trajan on the far north side facing inwards. The position of - and very existence of - the temple dedicated to the deified Trajan is a matter of hotly contested debate among archaeologists, particularly clear in the ongoing debate between James E. Packer and Roberto Meneghini. Directly north of the Basilica Ulpia on either side of the forum were two libraries, one housing Latin documents and the other Greek documents. Between the libraries stood the 38-metre (125-foot) Trajan's Column.
Trajan's Column is a Roman triumphal column that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. It was probably constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate. It is located in Trajan's Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum. Completed in AD 113, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, which artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians (101�102 and 105�106). Its design has inspired numerous victory columns, both ancient and modern.
The structure is about 30 metres (98 feet) in height, 35 metres (115 feet) including its large pedestal. The shaft is made from a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble[a] drums, each weighing about 32 tons, with a diameter of 3.7 metres (12.1 feet). The 190-metre (620-foot) frieze winds around the shaft 23 times. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 steps provides access to a viewing platform at the top. The capital block of Trajan's Column weighs 53.3 tons, which had to be lifted to a height of c. 34 metres (112 feet).
About The Frieze
The continuous helical frieze winds twenty-three times from base to capital, and was in its time an architectural innovation. The design was adopted by later emperors such as Marcus Aurelius. The narrative band expands from about 1 metre (3.3 feet) at the base of the column to 1.2 metres (3.9 feet) at the top. The scenes unfold continuously. Often a variety of different perspectives are used in the same scene, so that more can be revealed (e.g., a different angle is used to show men working behind a wall).
The relief portrays Trajan's two victorious military campaigns against the Dacians; the lower half illustrating the first (101�102), and the top half illustrating the second (105�106). These campaigns were contemporary to the time of the Column's building. Throughout, the frieze repeats standardized scenes of imperial address (adlocutio), sacrifice (lustratio), and the army setting out on campaign (profectio). Scenes of battle are very much a minority on the column, instead it emphasizes images of orderly soldiers carrying out ceremony and construction.
The war against Dacia was one of conquest and expansion. Therefore, with the aim of the Dacian Campaigns being the incorporation and integration of Dacia into the Roman Empire as a Roman province, depictions of violent action towards foreign women and children are nonexistent. Wartime violence in general seems to have been downplayed. Some scholars suggest the lack of battle scenes and large number of building scenes is a propaganda constructed specifically for the urban population of Rome (the primary audience), addressing their fear and distrust of the army by depicting its warfare as one with little collateral damage.