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The Servian Wall ( la, Murus Servii Tullii; it, Mura Serviane) was an ancient Roman defensive barrier constructed around the city of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...
in the early 4th century BC. The wall was built of volcanic tuff and was up to in height in places, wide at its base, long, and is believed to have had 16 main gates, of which only one or two have survived, and enclosed a total area of . In the 3rd century AD it was superseded by the construction of the larger
Aurelian Walls The Aurelian Walls ( it, Mura aureliane) are a line of city wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force p ...
as the city of Rome grew beyond the boundary of the Servian Wall.


History

The wall is named after the sixth
Roman King The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two different meanings of magistrate The term magistrate is ...
,
Servius Tullius Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two d ...
. The literary tradition stating that there was some type of defensive wall or earthen works that encircled the city of Rome dating to the 6th century BC has been found to be false. The main extent of the Servian Wall was built in the early 4th century, during what is known as the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
.


Construction

The Servian Wall was originally built from large blocks of Cappellaccio
tuff Tuff is a type of Rock (geology), rock made of volcanic ash ejected from a Volcano, vent during a volcanic eruption. Following ejection and deposition, the ash is lithified into a solid rock. Rock that contains greater than 75% ash is consider ...

tuff
(a volcanic rock made from ash and rock fragments that are ejected during a volcanic eruption) that was quarried from
Alban Hills The Alban Hills are the caldera A caldera is a large cauldron A cauldron (or caldron) is a large cast iron Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys with a carbon content more than 2%. Its usefulness derives from its relatively low ...
volcanic complex. This initial wall of Cappellaccio tuff was partially damaged and in need of restoration by the late 390s (either because of rapid disintegration or damage sustained after the Sack of Rome in
390 BC __NOTOC__ Year 390 BC was a year of the Roman calendar, pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Tribunate of Ambustus, Longus, Ambustus, Fidenas, Ambustus and Cornelius (or, less frequently, year 364 ''Ab urbe con ...
). These reparations were done using the superior Grotta Oscura tuff which had become available after the Romans had defeated
Veii Veii (also Veius; it, Veio) was an important ancient Etruscan civilization, Etruscan city situated on the southern limits of Etruria and only north-northwest of Rome, Italy. It now lies in Isola Farnese, in the Comuni of the Province of Rome, c ...

Veii
in the 390s. This tuff was quarried by the vanquished Veientines. In addition to the tuff blocks, some sections of the structure incorporated a deep ''fossa'', or a ditch, in front of the wall, as a means to effectively heighten the wall. This second iteration of the wall containing Grotta Oscura tuff is dated by
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
to have been completed in
378 BC __NOTOC__ Year 378 BC was a year of the Roman calendar, pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Tribunate of Medullinus, Fidenas, Lanatus, Siculus, Pulvillus and Macerinus (or, less frequently, year 376 ''Ab urbe ...
. Along part of the topographically weaker Northern perimeter was an agger, a defensive ramp of earth that was built up along the inside of the Servian Wall. This effectively thickened the wall and also gave the defenders of Rome a base to stand while repelling an attack. The wall was also outfitted with defensive war engines, including
catapult A catapult is a ballistic Ballistics may refer to: Science * Ballistics, the science that deals with the motion, behavior, and effects of projectiles. ** Forensic ballistics, the science of analyzing firearm usage in crimes ** Internal ...

catapult
s.


Usage

The Servian Wall was maintained through the end of the Late Republic and into the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. By this time, Rome had already begun to outgrow the original boundaries of the Servian Wall. The Servian Wall became unnecessary as Rome became well protected by the ever-expanding strength of the field armies of the Republic and of the later Empire. As the city continued to grow and prosper, Rome was essentially unwalled for the first three centuries of the Empire. Expanding domestic structures simply incorporated existing wall sections into their foundations, an example of which survives in the Auditorium of Maecenas. When German tribes made further incursions along the Roman frontier in the 3rd century AD, Emperor
Aurelian Aurelian ( la, Lucius Domitius Aurelianus; 9 September 214c. October 275) was Roman emperor from 270 to 275. As emperor, he won an unprecedented series of military victories which reunited the Roman Empire after it had practically disintegrated ...

Aurelian
had the larger
Aurelian Walls The Aurelian Walls ( it, Mura aureliane) are a line of city wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force p ...
built to protect the city of Rome.Watson, pp. 51–54, 217.


Present day

Several sections of the Servian Wall are still visible in various locations around the city of Rome. The largest section is preserved outside the Termini Station, the main railway station in Rome – including a section in a
McDonald's McDonald's is an American fast food Fast food is a type of Mass production, mass-produced food designed for commercial resale and with a strong priority placed on "speed of service" versus other relevant factors involved in food scie ...

McDonald's
dining area at the station. Another notable section on the
Aventine Hill The Aventine Hill (; la, Collis Aventinus; it, Aventino ) is one of the Seven Hills on which ancient Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus was the legend ...
incorporates an arch that was supposedly for a defensive catapult from the late Republic.


Gates along the Servian Wall

The following lists the gates that are believed to have been built, clockwise from the westernmost. (Many of these are inferred only from writings, with no known remains.) * Porta Flumentana – this gate was where the
via Aurelia The ''Via Aurelia'' (Latin for "Aurelian Way") is a Roman road in Italy constructed in approximately 241 BC. The project was undertaken by Aurelia (gens), Gaius Aurelius Cotta, who at that time was Roman censor, censor.Hornblower, Simon, & Anton ...
entered Rome after crossing the
Tiber River The Tiber (; la, Tiberis; it, Tevere ) is the third-longest river in Italy and the longest in Central Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains The Apennines or Apennine Mountains (; grc-gre, links=no, Ἀπέννινα ὄρη or Ἀπ ...
. *
Porta Carmentalis The Porta Carmentalis was a double gate in the Servian Walls of ancient Rome. It was named for a nearby shrine to the goddess or nymph Carmenta, whose importance in early ancient Roman religion, Roman religion is also indicated by the assignment of ...
– the western end of the
Capitoline The Capitolium or Capitoline Hill ( ; it, Campidoglio ; la, Mons Capitolinus ), between the Forum Forum (plural forums or fora) may refer to: Common uses * Forum (legal), designated space for public expression in the United States *For ...
. *
Porta Fontinalis The Porta Fontinalis was a gate in the Servian Wall in ancient Rome. It was located on the northern slope of the Capitoline Hill, probably the northeast shoulder over the Lautumiae, Clivus Argentarius. The Via Salaria exited through it, as did the ...
– led from the northern end of the Capitoline into the
Campus Martius The Campus Martius (Latin for the "Field of Mars", Italian language, Italian ''Campo Marzio'') was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome. The IV Rioni of Rome, rione of ...

Campus Martius
along the
via Lata File:101PzaPopolo.jpg, 220px, Via del Corso from Piazza del Popolo The Via del Corso is a main street in the historical centre of Rome. It is straight in an area otherwise characterized by narrow meandering alleys and small piazzas. Considered ...
. * Porta Sanqualis – on the
Quirinal The Quirinal Hill (; la, Collis Quirinalis; it, Quirinale ) is one of the Seven Hills of Rome The seven hills of Rome ( la, Septem colles/montes Romae, it, Sette colli di Roma ) east of the river Tiber File:Rome flood marker.jpg, Rome ...
. * Porta Salutaris – on the
Quirinal The Quirinal Hill (; la, Collis Quirinalis; it, Quirinale ) is one of the Seven Hills of Rome The seven hills of Rome ( la, Septem colles/montes Romae, it, Sette colli di Roma ) east of the river Tiber File:Rome flood marker.jpg, Rome ...
. * Porta Quirinalis – on the
Quirinal The Quirinal Hill (; la, Collis Quirinalis; it, Quirinale ) is one of the Seven Hills of Rome The seven hills of Rome ( la, Septem colles/montes Romae, it, Sette colli di Roma ) east of the river Tiber File:Rome flood marker.jpg, Rome ...
. *
Porta Collina The Colline Gate (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...
– the northernmost gate, on the
Quirinal The Quirinal Hill (; la, Collis Quirinalis; it, Quirinale ) is one of the Seven Hills of Rome The seven hills of Rome ( la, Septem colles/montes Romae, it, Sette colli di Roma ) east of the river Tiber File:Rome flood marker.jpg, Rome ...
, leading to the
via Salaria The Via Salaria was an ancient Roman road Roman roads ( la, viae Romanae ; singular: ; meaning "Roman way") were physical infrastructure vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, and were built from about 300 BC through the ...
. Hannibal camped his army within sight of this gate when he considered besieging Rome in 211 BC. This section was fortified additionally with the agger. * Porta Viminalis – on the
Viminal The Viminal Hill ( ; la, Collis Vīminālis ; it, Viminale ) is the smallest of the famous seven hills of Rome, Seven Hills of Rome. A finger-shape cusp pointing toward central Rome between the Quirinal Hill to the northwest and the Esquiline ...
. This is near the large section still visible outside Termini Station. *
Porta Esquilina The Porta Esquilina (or Esquiline Gate) was a gate in the Servian Wall,Platner, S.B. and Ashby, T. ''A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome''. London: Humphrey Milford Oxford University, Press. 1929 of which the Arch of Gallienus is extant toda ...
– this gate on the
Esquiline The Esquiline Hill (; la, Collis Esquilinus; it, Esquilino ) is one of the seven hills of Rome, Seven Hills of Rome. Its southernmost cusp is the ''Oppius'' (Oppian Hill). Etymology The origin of the name ''Esquiline'' is still under much ...
is still visible, and incorporates the later arch of the emperor
Gallienus Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus (; c. 218 – September 268) was Roman emperor with his father Valerian (emperor), Valerian from 253 to 260 and alone from 260 to 268. He ruled during the Crisis of the Third Century that nearly caused the coll ...

Gallienus
. It led to the
via Labicana The Via Labicana was an ancient road A road is a wide way leading from one place to another, typically one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles and bikes can use. Roads consist of one or two roadway A carriageway (British Engli ...

via Labicana
,
via Praenestina The Via Praenestina (modern Italian: Via Prenestina) was an ancient Roman road Roman roads ( la, viae Romanae ; singular: ; meaning "Roman way") were physical infrastructure vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, and were b ...
and
via Tiburtina Via Tiburtina is an ancient road in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alp ...
. * Porta Querquetulana – this led to the via Tusculana. * Porta Caelimontana – this gate is perhaps preserved in the Arch of Dolabella and Silanus, which was the reconstruction of an existing gate in 10 AD by the consuls Dolabella and
Silanus Silanus may refer to: * Silanus, Sardinia, a town in Sardinia * Gaius Julius Silanus, Roman senator * Junius Silanus (disambiguation), Romans See also

* {{dab ...
. *
Porta Capena Porta Capena was a gate in the Servian Wall The Servian Wall ( la, Murus Servii Tullii; it, Mura Serviane) was an ancient Roman defensive barrier constructed around the city of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date ...
– this was the gate through which the
via Appia The Appian Way (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of ...

via Appia
left Rome to southern Italy after separating from the
via Latina The Via Latina (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in rel ...

via Latina
. * Porta Naevia – this gate on the Aventine led to the
via Ardeatina The Via Ardeatina (Ardeatine Way) was an ancient road A road is a wide way leading from one place to another, typically one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles and bikes can use. Roads consist of one or two roadway A carriagew ...

via Ardeatina
. * Porta Raudusculana – headed south along the Tiber River along the
via Ostiensis The Via Ostiensis ( it, via Ostiense) was an important road in ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of ...
. Near here, on the modern ''viale Aventino'', may be found a section of the wall incorporating an arch for a catapult. *
Porta Lavernalis Porta can refer to: People * Porta (rapper) (born 1988), stagename of Christian Jiménez Bundo, a Spanish rap singer * Bianca Della Porta (born 1991), Canadian ice hockey and rugby player * Carlo Porta (1775–1821), Italian poet in the Milanese d ...
– also joined up with the via Ostiensis. *
Porta Trigemina The Porta Trigemina was one of the main gates in the ancient 4th century Servian Wall of Rome, Italy. The gate no longer exists, but it is frequently mentioned by ancient authors as standing between the north end of the Aventine Hill and the Tiber ...
– this triple gate near the
Forum Boarium The Forum Boarium (, it, Foro Boario) was the cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large s. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily and the mos ...

Forum Boarium
also led to the via Ostiensis.


Gallery

File:Ripa - le mura a via di sant anselmo 051211-06.JPG, The Servian Wall at Via di Sant Anselmo File:Piazza fanti, resti dell'agger delle mura serviane 03.JPG, in the Piazza Manfredo Fanti File:Esquilino - mura serviane all'auditorium 1120875.JPG, Esquiline, incorporated in the Auditorium of Maecenas File:Sallustiano - mura serviane a via Salandra 1010013.JPG, in the via Salandra File:Monti - mura serviane a Magnanapoli 1010002.JPG, at Largo Magnanapoli File:S Sabina mura serviane 1150186.JPG, in
Santa Sabina The Basilica of Saint Sabina ( la, Basilica Sanctae Sabinae, it, Basilica di Santa Sabina all'Aventino) is a historic church on the Aventine Hill The Aventine Hill (; la, Collis Aventinus; it, Aventino ) is one of the Seven Hills on which ...

Santa Sabina
crypt File:New passenger building - Interior - 2.jpg, in Termini station


See also

* Museum of the Walls, Rome


References


Bibliography

* Bernard, Seth G. “CONTINUING THE DEBATE ON ROME'S EARLIEST CIRCUIT WALLS.” Papers of the British School at Rome 80 (2012): 1–44. doi:10.1017/S0068246212000037. * Carandini, A., P. Carafa, Italy, and Università degli studi di Roma “La Sapienza.,” eds. 2012. Atlante di Roma antica: biografia e ritratti della città. Milano: Electa. * Carter, Jesse Benedict. "The Evolution of the City of Rome from Its Origin to the Gallic Catastrophe." ''Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society'' 48, no. 192 (1909): 136. www.jstor.org/stable/984151 * Cifani, G. (1998) La documentazione archeologica delle mura arcaiche a Roma. Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Römische Abteilung 105: 359–89. * Cifani, Gabriele. "THE FORTIFICATIONS OF ARCHAIC ROME: SOCIAL AND POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE." In Focus on Fortifications: New Research on Fortifications in the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East, edited by Frederiksen Rune, Müth Silke, Schneider Peter I., and Schnelle Mike, 82–93. Oxford; Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2016. Accessed June 10, 2021. doi:10.2307/j.ctvh1dv3d.12. * Claridge, Amanda. ''Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide''. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2010. Oxford Archaeological Guides * * Forsythe, Gary. 2005. ''A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War''. Berkeley: University of California Press * Holleran, C., and A. Claridge, eds. 2018. A companion to the city of Rome. Blackwell companions to the ancient world. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. * Merrill, Elmer Truesdell. "The City of Servius and the Pomerium." ''Classical Philology'' 4, no. 4 (1909): 420–32. www.jstor.org/stable/262369 * Showerman, Grant. 1969. ''Rome and the Romans: A Survey and Interpretation''. New York: Cooper Square *


External links


Servian Wall entry on the Lacus Curtius websiteMap showing the "Servian" wall based on new research results
{{coord, 41, 54, 06, N, 12, 30, 06, E, type:landmark_source:kolossus-frwiki, display=title Buildings and structures completed in the 4th century BC Tourist attractions in Rome Walls of Rome 4th-century BC establishments in Italy Roman walls in Italy