An archaeological site at Piazza Venezia. Hadrian’s Auditoria
Wednesday 24 March, 11:30
To find out more
R. Rea, Gli auditoria pubblici nel mondo romano, in La biblioteca infinita. I luoghi del sapere nel mondo antico, exhibition catalogue, Rome, 14.03.2014 – 5.10.2014, Milan 2014, pp. 133-155.
M. Serlorenzi et al, Il contesto archeologico dell’Athenaeum di Adriano tra tardo antico e altomedioevo: una possibile zecca di VI secolo?, in G. Pardini, N. Parise, F. Marani (ed.), Numismatica e archeologia. Monete, stratigrafie e contesti. Dati a confronto, I Workshop Internazionale di numismatica, Roma, 28-30 settembre 2011, Rome 2017, pp. 369-405.
Between 2007 and 2011, a series of archaeological investigations were conducted before construction began on Line C of the Rome Metro. These preliminary excavations led archaeologists to discover a large portion of an imposing public building constructed during the reign of Hadrian (117 – 138 AD) beneath the current-day Piazza Madonna di Loreto. Used for cultural dissemination, public readings of literary works and prose, rhetoric lessons but also for judicial functions, we now know this ancient building to be Hadrian’s Auditoria and it has been added to the area managed by the Parco archeologico del Colosseo.
Separated from Trajan’s Forum by a curving road, the building was divided into two levels that looked out over the ancient Via Flaminia – which followed the route of the current-day Via del Corso – located roughly two meters beneath Piazza Venezia. The ground floor, only partially preserved, was divided into three large halls, each with floor and wall decorations in polychrome marble and terraced steps on either side of a central corridor. The halls were arranged radially around a curve in the road that separated the Auditoria from Trajan’s Forum. Orators would stand in the central corridor of each hall and present their work to the public seated on subsellia (low seats) placed on the terraced steps. Two of these halls emerged in the course of recent excavations while a part of the third was found in the early 1900’s during the construction of the nearby Assicurazioni Generali Building.
The complex remained relatively intact until the 6th century AD, when a coppersmith’s workshop was established within its halls, which had now been stripped of their marble decorations. The presence of metal waste and ingots made the workshop easy to recognize, as did the holes dug in the floor and terraced steps to house small furnaces. A violent earthquake struck the area in 847, and between the 12th and 13th centuries, a kiln for lime production was installed over the collapsed debris in the central hall.
Finally, in the late 16th century, the Bakers’ Hospital, sponsored by the eponymous Fraternity, was built in this area. The neighboring church of Santa Maria di Loreto was built by the same fraternity.
This area’s stratigraphic palimpsest will be integrated into the new “Piazza Venezia” metro station on the C Line and will be connected underground to the adjacent Trajan’s Forum, as well as with the Vittoriano complex, thereby creating an “immersive but real” visit to Rome’s underground.
You can hear all about it on Wednesday, 24 March at 11:30 in our usual Facebook livestream!