Skip to Main Content

New Projects in Digital Art History: The GIS Forma Urbis Romae Project: Creating a Layered History of Rome

In this lecture, originally presented as part of the conference “New Projects in Digital Art History” on November 21, 2014, James T. Tice, University of Oregon, discusses a project that will provide scholars with an innovative tool to study the complex urban fabric of Rome as it has evolved over three millennia. Using advanced GIS technology, this multidisciplinary project intends to create a layered history of Rome by updating the Forma Urbis Romae, the cartographic masterpiece of ancient Roman topography published in 1901 by Rodolfo Lanciani. This map measures 25 by 17 feet and employs an innovative graphic system that represents Rome’s historic urban fabric as a series of layers from ancient to modern. The map remains the standard archaeological reference for Rome even though it does not incorporate the numerous discoveries uncovered since its original publication. Tice and his fellow researchers plan to critically examine, update, and eventually republish the Forma Urbis Romae map as an interactive website. One of the website’s constituent elements will be an evolving geo-database that will both solicit and incorporate contributions by internationally prominent scholars in the field.