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Publisher's Summary

"A circular trench was dug around what is now the Comitium, and in this were deposited first-fruits of all things the use of which was sanctioned by custom as good and by nature as necessary; and finally, every man brought a small portion of the soil of his native land, and these were cast in among the first-fruits and mingled with them. They call this trench, as they do the heavens, by the name of 'mundus' ['the world']. Then, taking this as a center, they marked out the city in a circle round it." (Plutarch)
The Roman Empire is the most famous in history, and the center of the far-reaching empire's activities were located in the Forum, a low area between the Capitoline and Palatine hills in Rome. The topography held a great deal of significance for Romans, and consequently so many layers of myth were laid on top of the landscape and buildings that it is difficult to separate legend from actual historical fact. As a low-lying area near the Tiber River, the Forum was subject to much flooding, and even into the 20th century the Forum area could flood upward of 40 feet above sea level. This would factor significantly in the imaginations of Romans, who later ascribed the flooding with saving the city's founders, Romulus and Remus, from execution. However, in the eighth and seventh centuries BC, this did not make for a good area for construction. Previous generations of excavators have concluded that in the beginning, there were waddle and daub huts in the Forum, as indicated by remains of organic food material, fragments of daub, and evidence of post holes dug in the ground for these structures.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors
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