This four-hour walking tour takes us into the archaeological core of the city, focusing on three key monuments: the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum. Led by an archaeologist or classical historian, this in-depth tour uses the ruins of Rome as a backdrop for discussing the rise of the Roman empire, the political intrigues of emperors, and the daily life of commoners. Since our docent is a trained scholar, we’ll also use our time together to discuss the role of archaeology in history and learn how to read the ruins in order to reconstruct the ancient city. As much more than just a Colosseum tour, this seminar provides some of the basic tools to put ancient Rome into context.
Depending on the individual docent’s approach, we might start the walk either at the Palatine Hill or at the Colosseum. On the Palatine Hill, we will explore the first stages of the city and the legend of its founding in 753 B.C. (on April 21, to be exact) by Romulus. After covering the founding myths and anthropological record of the Palatine, we explore the imperial palaces that eventually covered the hill. If time and interest allows, we usually stop in the Palatine museum to learn about Roman statuary and, when possible, make a special visit to one of the archaeological sites normally closed to visitors. We will linger for a while among the ruins of the Palatine, as from here one gets a very good introduction to archaeological technique, Roman architecture and construction technologies, and Roman political and social structure. From here, we will explore the remnants of the aqueduct of Claudius and take in vistas of the Roman Forum that illustrate the palimpsest nature of the city.