In 1933, Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini commissioned the archaeologist Italo Gismondi to create a scale model (1:250) of the city of Rome as it might have looked during the age of the emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306 - 337 CE).
In creating the Plastico di Roma Imperiale, as his plaster model came to be known, Gismondi relied heavily on Rodolfo Lanciani’s map, the Forma Urbis Romae, which was published in 1901. Lanciani’s map was, itself, based on a massive marble map of the ancient city created under the reign of the emperor Septimius Severus (r. 193-211).
Gismondi worked on the model for over 35 years. Measuring 55 feet by 55 feet, it is on display in the Museum of Roman Civilisation (Museo della Civilta Romana).
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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