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Living in Rome means that you will everyday see some type of work on very ancient buildings or monuments from the Republican period before 50 BC to Imperial Roman period up to 400 AD. Archeology is a huge business in Rome and employs scholars from around the world. Romans are very attentive to their past and guard it carefully. The reason why the construction of Line C of the metro of Rome is 20 years behind schedule is because of historical discovery and extensive archeological work. While living in Rome we were fortunate to visit sites that reopened after being closed for 50 years for extensive research and study work. The private house of Augustus on the Palatine and next door the house of his wife Livia is one example, I would call them austere and simple, not Hollywood palaces. The Domus Aurea of Nero reopened just last year, it was and had been closed for decades while we lived in Rome. Also we were able to visit exhibits of rare artifacts very rarely seen in public. One such exhibit was on the Secret Library and Archives of the Vatican. The secret is that there are no secrets, what we did see though was fascinating, the Vatican keeps every piece of paper, every document on any topic. All carefully catalogue and preserved, correspondence between the Holy See and Princes or Kings. Books of all kinds, official decrees, even pornography from ancient times. Why keep it all? Well because then you can use it to support your point of view and show what was said or done. There is or was an element of vanity in all this, to show how the Holy See communicated with the powerful of this world. Who could then deny that the Pope was not important or did not have authority to influence the course of history. What mere mortals think would be sinful or forbidden is kept, why? Well maybe to show that human nature does not change, there is a certain moral story about it all. Some of the Official documents when you read them shed a different perspective on history. Letters often have a personal and intimate tone, despite the fact that they are official documents.

Then comes the monuments and various buildings of Rome, starting with the huts of Romulus, the ruins of the Temple of the Sybil or that of the Furies in Trastevere which was a cursed site, how about the Gate of Hell with its staircase in the Forum next to the Arch of Septimus Severus.

One such ancient monument is the Mausoleum of Augustus, the first Emperor. He was know as Octavian and was the nephew and adopted son of Julius Cesar. He was proclaimed Imperator and August by the Senate of Rome. His legacy to the Western World is important on many different levels. His ruined Mausoleum in Rome survives to this day and has undergone studies and renovations since 1933. Since 2000 even more in depth study of the structure has been undertaken and the amount of information on this monument is impressive.

Photo from the 1970’s before the latest round of study were undertaken. On the far left of the photo we can see the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) dedicated to Augustus, his life’s work and his family. The Ara Pacis is very well preserved and wonderful to visit.
This is what the Mausoleum of Augustus looked like in antiquity. Several members of his family had their ashes interred here. The round tomb concept recalls the ancient Etruscans whose mausoleum can be seen just outside of Rome.