The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, which stood on the Capitoline Hill, was the most important temple in ancient Rome.
Over the course of time, a total of four temples to Jupiter were erected on this site. The first was dedicated in 509 BCE. When its foundations were being dug the skull of a man was unearthed. This discovery was interpreted by the augurs to mean that Rome would become the head of the world (caput mundi).
The Temple to Jupiter was destroyed by fire on three occasions, but each time it was rebuilt. The fourth and final temple, which was erected during the reign of the emperor Domitian (r. 81-96), survived until the fall of Rome at the end of the fifth century.
Sadly, almost nothing survives of Domitian's temple, the most lavish of the four, apart from portions of its huge base and foundations, which can be seen by visiting the Musei Capitolini.
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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