Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The Amazing Map of Rome


There is very little new in cartography. Over the last few years there has been a bit of a trend to create building age maps of cities. A building age map is a great idea but it isn't new. For example an Italian archaeologist had the same idea over 100 years ago and what he created was nothing short of cartographic magnificence.

At the turn of the Twentieth Century Italian archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani undertook the task of creating a huge detailed map of Rome. A map which would visualize when different parts of the city were built. Lanciani’s Forma Urbis Romae is color codded to show the different historical epochs when different areas of Rome were built. On the map ancient and medieval Rome is shown in black, early modern Rome in red and the modern city (to Lanciani) is shown in blue.

The Forma Urbis Romae was also huge. It measures 17 x 24 feet. You might therefore struggle to open the map. It is lucky for us therefore that Mapping Rome has digitized all 46 plates and released a fully interactive map of Lanciani's Forma Urbis Romae. It is well worth zooming in on this map to explore Lanciani's beautiful cartography and how he was able to visualize the often complex intermingling of different historical eras within single structures and areas of the city.
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