ABSTRACT

There is a question voiced by some ancient historians about archaeology that is often articulated as a wonder whether all the effort in terms of human and financial resources involved in archaeological projects is really worth the results produced. To answer this question, I wish to set out to evaluate the impact of archaeological projects on our understanding of the most central space of Roman cities – the forum. The chapter begins with an examination of the use of texts for the study of topography and then moves onto an examination of archaeological investigations in the Forum Romanum in Rome, before examining the survey and excavation of fora elsewhere. What I wish to demonstrate is that the archaeologist’s attention to detail reveals and adds to our understanding of these central areas of the Roman city as revealed in texts and through the study of the standing remains of buildings. In so doing, I will present at the end of the chapter a new understanding of the forum based on this evidence.