Visualizing Statues in the Late Antique Roman Forum, a new HyperCities project, has just been released. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the project explores the purpose and use of statues of Roman emperors in the fourth and fifth centuries CE. These statues were located at precise spots in the urban landscape, and depended greatly on the surrounding terrain for effect; they illustrated continuities across the generations of rulers, and processions through the area implicitly brought absent rulers into the company of their predecessors, preserving memories of the political and military roles played by emperors.
The late antique statues of the emperors from the Roman Forum have disappeared over the millennia; this project returns each statue to its original context, within a large model of the Roman Forum. The project includes a map of all the statues and a database of all the inscriptions upon each statue; it also uses HyperCities’ guided tours to take the user through the statues from different perspectives, including a set of views that illustrates the significance of emperor Honorius’ procession at ground level.
Visualizing Statues in the Late Antique Roman Forum is the result of collaborative efforts among faculty members, and builds on other research done at UCLA. It uses the “Digital Roman Forum“, a model of the forum developed by the UCLA Experiential Technologies Center, which was completed in 2005. The Digital Roman Forum project led to an NEH-supported Summer Institute at UCLA entitled “Models of Ancient Rome,” taught by Professor Diane Favro together with Sander Goldberg and Chris Johanson. One outcome of the seminar was a series of discussions about ways to continue the research on the Roman Forum by focusing on the experiential issues raised by statues and the ritual use of public space during late antiquity. Through the Fellowships at Digital Humanities Centers program, the NEH funded Gregor Kalas’s year-long research at UCLA’s Experiential Technologies Center to pursue this research in collaboration with Favro and Johanson.
To view the project, please visit http://inscriptions.etc.ucla.edu/.