Trajan erected his famed column in AD 113 and it was an original and memorable way to broadcast his success in defeating one of Rome’s long-time enemies, the Dacians and their ruler Decebalus. The column was covered in carved depictions of events that happened during his campaigns in Dacia (modern Romania) on the Danube frontier in AD 101-102 and 105-106, and these have been very useful to historians, leaving behind a wealth of visual details about Roman military and social history.
The column stood between the two libraries of the Forum in Rome and people could read the painted graphic scenes almost the entire height of the column. These scenes wind up for a total length of 656 feet (200 m) and include 2500 figures. The column was built of Parian marble and has a height of 125 feet (38 m) and a base diameter of 13 feet (3.83 m).
Trajan’s column still stands today in Rome and I must have seen it 30 years ago when I last visited, though I don’t remember because I didn’t know what I was looking at then. But I recently saw a life-size reproduction of the column at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Of course it is on my list of must-sees when I return to Rome. The pictures here are from the V&A.
You have to love the V&A – it looks like there is some kind of medieval pajama party going on beside the column!