The Trajan's Puzzle Project
Since 1985 over 40,000 fragments originating from the imperial fora have been collected in the deposits created when excavations were carried out earlier in the 20th century. This seemingly huge amount of finds in reality represents a small percentage of the enormous quantity of marble facings and sculpted blocks used in the construction and decoration of the Imperial Forum District. Over the last 20 years, works carried out in the deposits of the forums have focused on the treatment and restoration of these fragments. Unfortunately most of them are not visible or accessible to the public. At this stage, the identification of the contexts and reconstructing the original appearance of forum complexes are the basis of study for the Museum of the Imperial Forums project. The digitalization of this large-scale dataset is fundamental for approaching a correct interpretation and reconstruction of the Forum of Trajan and for understanding the visual impact, the narrative and symbolic content of the decorations. The recomposition of all these fragments is one of the key challenges of the next decades for archaeologists and art historians, which is why we have named our project “The Trajan's Puzzle.”
A general agreement of scientific cooperation was signed by Duke University and the Superintendence of Rome in 2014, with the goal to foster interdisciplinary collaborative programs of research and training in digital and classical archaeology. Case studies: the Roman Forum, the Market of Trajan and the Museum of Roman Fora in Rome.