Archeology file: Roman trophies and Trajan's column

Archeology file: Roman trophies and Trajan's column

1900 years ago the Trajan's column which subsequently fascinated generations of men. The trophies and the columns are places of memory par excellence in antiquity which have benefited from a rich iconographic program. The number 359 of Archeology files "Roman Trophies and Trajan's Column" will allow readers to discover, through these works, part of Roman art and to learn a little more about the empire itself.

But this dossier also focuses on a people largely unknown to the general public, the Dacians. Representing the Dacians and the Dacian victory, that is the heart of this new issue of Archeology files.

The campaign against the Dacians of Trajan constitutes the backbone of the dossier. Coordinated by Martin Galinier, Georges Castellvi and Léonard Velescu, this dossier brings together diverse and complementary articles. The first articles focus on the Dacian war and the religion of the Dacians. The two articles on the name and the portrait of the defeated king of the Dacians Decebalus allow us to better understand the importance of this little-known figure. The number of representations of this barbarian king is particularly important and exceptional in Antiquity.

The following articles are devoted to the representations of the victory against the Dacians. An article by Georges Castellvi intersects this part and draws up the history of the Roman trophies from Pompey to Trajan. The conclusion of this article is particularly interesting and shows how Trajan wanted to compete with Augustus while showing his attachment to traditional republican values. A consequent article is devoted to Trajan's column. The use of ancient sources to better understand the column is refreshing. The Tropaeum Traiani triumphal monument in Adamclis, Romania, is also covered in an article by Alexandru Barnéa. Other contributions focus on the representation of the Dacians, Dacia and the Dacian victory in sculpture and numismatics.

The last articles are devoted to the many casts of the column in modern and contemporary times, their contexts and their uses. The processes used for the realization of these and the modalities of exhibitions are discussed at length. They remind us that the column had a special place until the 20th century. The last pages are devoted as usual to exhibitions, discoveries and books related to archeology.

This vast, dense, richly illustrated dossier is a success. The contributions are very complementary and allow us to paint a rich picture of the Trajan era. The articles place the monuments and the objects they deal with in their political and economic context. We realize that in the end, the Dacic victory was of capital importance for Rome and was not secondary in the Empire.

As Leonard Velcescu underlines in one of his articles, the Dacians benefited from an iconographic program from the Romans without equal. They are highlighted in a central place: the forum of Trajan. Vercingetorix and the Gauls look pale next to them. Representing the other is also talking about oneself. An unexpected and captivating journey that will delight all curious readers.

Archeology File, “Roman trophies and Trajan's column”, n ° 359, September / October 2013.

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