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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Virtual archaeology uncovers secrets of ancient Rome


An Indiana University archaeo-informaticist has used virtual simulations to flip the calendar back thousands of years and show for the first time the historical significance of the unique alignment of the sun with two monuments tied to the founder of the Roman Empire.

Virtual archaeology uncovers secrets of ancient Rome
Virtual simulation image of the sun atop the obelisk with the Altar of
Peace in the foreground [Credit : Indiana University]
For nearly a half-century, scholars had associated the relationship between the Ara Pacis, the “Altar of Peace” dedicated in 9 BC to then-emperor Augustus, and the Obelisk of Montecitorio -- a 71-foot-high granite obelisk Augustus brought to Rome from Egypt -- with Augustus’ Sept. 23 birthday.

Prevailing research had found that on this day, the shadow of the obelisk -- serving as the pointer, or gnomon, of a giant sundial on the plaza floor -- would point toward the middle of the Ara Pacis, which the Roman Senate had commissioned to recognize the peace brought to the Roman Empire through Augustus' military victories.


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