Trajan Forum and Market

Augusta Foose and Nero Brotman

What is the Trajan Forum and why was it built?

In 106 A.D. Apollodorus of Damascus, a famous architect, built one of the most massive high rise buildings in Roman history in Emperor Trajan’s honor. The purpose of this building was to be a social market place and commercial building. When Romans would come to shop they would even have to trade in normal currency for special tokens in order to shop in the market. Current buildings in this era tend to be similar to this building format. Our shopping malls tend to be very similar from the layout to structure.

What did the layout look like?

There were so many variations of rooms, offices and shops that part of what made the forum so special it started with the Basilica was basically a court room where large formal meets could be held. The had a ware house that was parallel to many offices on the higher levels of the building, 2 different libraries 1 of them a Greek and the other a Latin, and finally on the lower levels held the market place where citizens would come to shop from a variety of shops. The upper levels of this semi-circular brick and concrete market which at one section had up to six stories were used for offices from where the whole market place was managed. Adjacent to these offices was a large warehouse. The lower levels, however, that was the center of activity. There, merchants sold a variety of goods to the average Roman citizen, including wine, oil, fruits, vegetables, and other grocery items. These shops were called "tabernae" and were barrel-vaulted cubicles with small windows and a large opening to the street. In total there were more than 150 tabernae in the complex. . Finally in the lower part of the market was the so-called Great Hall, 32 meters long and 8 meters high. The hall was possibly used for concerts, speeches or education.

Why is this structure unique? Why is it importnant to preserve it?

This building is historic because it was the beginning of new things for Rome. They cleared out several buildings and offices to make room for this grand building. Not only did they create one of the first 6 story buildings in Rome but also one of the first and largest gathering places. Shortly after it opened it became one of the most popular places to shop, work and hang out. Much of the market is still standing today. This is one of the only high rise buildings in ancient Rome that was able to be preserved. Unfortunately many of the high traffic areas like the Basilica (court room) and market place are not in good standing today. So in order for us to preserve what is left we need to be able to study, and work in this area carefully because its important history that should not be messed with.

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Should we still use buildings like this today?

I believe that it is a very unique structure and has so many things that would blend well with our modern architecture. Many of our shopping centers, malls, town center gathering areas resemble ancient Roman buildings. This buildings were efficient and well used. So in the end I believe if all of our major town gathering areas were formed like this it could be very beneficial to our community.
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