An ancient monumental conical fountain, known as the Meta Sudans, once stood in the shadow of the Colosseum.
A meta was a tall conical object in a Roman circus that stood at either end of the central spina, around which racing chariots would turn. The Meta Sudans had the same shape, and also functioned as a similar kind of turning point in that it marked the spot where a triumphal procession would turn from Via Triumphalis (today's Via di Gregorio Magno) into the Forum, its ultimate destination.
Built of brick and concrete, and faced with marble, the Meta Sudans seems to have sweated the water (sudans is Latin for sweating) from holes in the cone. The fountain, which is thought to have been erected towards the end of the first century CE, stood up to seventeen metres high.
A nine-metre-high concrete core survived until 1936 when Mussolini had it destroyed to make way for the creation of a traffic circle around the Colosseum.
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 walking tours of Rome.
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