- Series: Oxford Archaeological Guides
- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (June 25, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192880039
- ISBN-13: 978-0192880031
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1 x 5.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #969,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide (Oxford Archaeological Guides)
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The city of Rome is the largest archeological site in the world. If your idea of a good Roman holiday is uncovering the archeological mysteries of the Roman Empire, then Oxford Archeological Guides: Rome is your ideal guidebook.
For such a detailed guide, this book is remarkably readable. Of the Field of Mars (Campus Martius), Claridge writes,
It is the one part of Rome which continued to be quite densely inhabited after the C9 AD, becoming the center of the late medieval and Renaissance city, and is still densely inhabited today, an extraordinary blend of past and present even for Rome. The Stock Exchange occupies a Roman temple, the boiler-rooms of the offices of the Senate are set in the ruins of Roman thermal baths, a modern theatre nestles in the shell of a Roman theatre. Many of the streets are on the lines of ancient streets, and the walls of the buildings on either side of them are often balanced directly on top of Roman walls.Among this Oxford guide's special features are 200 site plans, maps, diagrams, and photographs; a cultural and historical overview; a chronological overview; and a glossary of essential terms. It uses star ratings to help you plan your days and divides Rome into 12 main areas: the Roman Forum, Upper Via Sacra, Palatine Hill, Imperial Forums, Campus Martius, Capitoline Hill, Circus Flaminius to Circus Maximus, Colosseum Valley and Esquiline Hill, Caelian Hill and the Via Appia, other sites, museums, and catacombs.
Shaded sidebars add anecdotal interest, covering issues such as the Seven Hills, Jupiter's Dining Room, Tomb of Bibulus, the "Province" Reliefs, Madam Lucretia, Nero's New Palace, and Gladiatorial Shows. --Kathryn True
`The Oxford Archaeological Guides offer a wealth of detailed, accurate but always readable information, providing anyone who has a serious interest in archaeology with the means to derive the utmost benefit from a visit to an ancient site. They are user-friendly and highly recommended.' Paul Bahn
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A major shortcoming that I noticed is that the book treats the ancient-era churches very lightly: while the myths of gods such as Pollux and Castor are frequently referenced in relation to the ancient sites, the C1 AD story of Saint Clement is inexplicably left out of the section on the church of San Clemente constructed by Constantine. Also, as the author states in the beginning, the intent of this guide is to detail ancient Rome only. If you are interested in medieval, Renaissance, or ecclessiastic history, you will certainly need a supplemental guide.
Now, for the advantages... The guide systematically presents every ancient structure in Rome (we were never disappointed), providing a very good map at the beginning of each chapter for a major area (e.g. the Palatine, Field of Mars) to help you identify what you are looking at. The site is laid out in a sort of walking tour format and if you begin at the point suggested, you can follow the chapter page by page as it logically guides you through the region. We did find that writing in page references for each location on the map at the beginning made the book much easier to use. For more complicated buildings, additional diagrams are provided in the appropriate subsection where it is further detailed. The Baths of Caracalla are a superb example of this.
While Claridge delves a bit too thoroughly into the exact type of marble used in the facing and floors of each building, you find yourself recognizing the materials and envisioning the baths, basillicas, and forums as they might have looked clad in Phyrgian red and Numidian yellow marbles. With frequent referencing, we soon became familiar with Caracella, Domitian, and Nerva as we viewed the great construction projects they enacted. The author presents quite clearly the historical origin and significance of each site as well as its original appearance (if known) and the many refurbishments it went through with the frequent fires of Rome.
For our trip, we opted out of taking any tours, and we didn't feel we missed anything. We were often surrounded by tours and gained more information from our book than the guide was sharing with his group. You never know how reliable a guide really is, and with this book, you can be assured of Amanda Claridge's credentials. The trip became a bit of a mystery adventure for us as we excitedly reconstructed the ruins around us into the elegant structures they once were.
Even if you do decide to go with a more mainstream guide book for your trip to Rome, you will find this one to be an invaluable supplement for all those tidbits that the major guides just don't have time to cover.
Don't be put off by simplified plans shown in the pages. You need clear, simple ideas of what the stuff once was to understand what you're looking at. When you're in the ruins, you will be surrounded by other tourists, any changing weather conditions, and you will be viewing the architectural remains of a previous civilization from many different standpoints. You can't do that successfully without a clear, simple concept already in your mind.
Fodor's Holy Rome, 1st Edition: A Millennium Guide to Christian Sights (Fodor's Holy Rome)
It does two different things very, very well. First, it gives a meticulous overview of the "big" sites that are listed in all the guidebooks: the Forum, Capitoline Hill, the Column of Marcus Aurelius, etc. It gives details about the specific buildings, eras, etc. in these better-known sites. More information than a person with a casual interest in history needs, but if you want to know more details, this is the book for you.
But then it also gives directions to obscure little Roman remains that aren't listed in any guidebook -- this foundation of this house, the basement of this restaurant, etc. For someone with a serious interest in Roman history and archaeology, this is an outstanding trip planning aid.