Our travels also took us to Rome, and I the ruins of the Roman Forum.
Built on the site of an ancient necropolis, the Roman Forum was the center of both governmental and public life during both the days of the Republic and the Empire. Over time, the addition of new buildings and new temples filled this plot of land.
This Forum was where the Senate met, where Julius Caesar’s ashes were placed in a shrine, and where the hapless orator Cicero’s hands and head wer placed on display on the Rostra.
Back at its start, the forum was a swampy, ancient burial ground or necropolis. However, the invading Etruscans, the dominant power in Italy until the sixth century B.C., decided to drain the swampy ground, raise it up and turn it into the focal point for the city. When the Romans finally overthrew the last Etruscan king in 509 B.C., they continued to build on and improve the Forum. However, these improvements to the Forum came with one crucial caveat: once built, a Temple could never be destroyed or moved. This led to the Forum becoming almost crowded with temples, until the eventual legalization of Christianity and the fall of Rome shortly thereafter saw them eventually fall into disrepair.
The Forum today is very accessible to the public, although the smaller artifacts seem to have, understandably and thankfully, been removed by archaeologists.