Trajan’s Column – Roman art – Dacian Wars

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Trajan's Column in the Forum of Trajan, in Rome

Trajan’s Column in the Forum of Trajan, in Rome

Trajan’s column was built just after 100 AD to remind people in Rome about the Roman emperor Trajan‘s victories in a war in Dacia (DAY-see-ah) (modern Rumania). It stands in Trajan’s Forum in Rome, just below Trajan’s Markets, and near the old Roman Forum.

Scene from Trajan's Column: Roman soldiers crossing the Danube river in boats, using oars.

Scene from Trajan’s Column: Roman soldiers crossing the Danube river in boats, using oars.

All around the column, there are pictures of the Roman soldiers fighting the war. In this picture you can see Roman soldiers crossing the Danube (DAN-youb) river in boats with oars.

The message of the column was that the Romans were civilized and good fighters, organized and skilled (and that Trajan was a great general), while the Dacians were shaggy, messy, and confused.

Column of Trajan: Can you see the little tiny window that gives light for the spiral staircase inside? Really this column is big, and that window is a normal size window.

In this picture, you can see a ladder near the top, and some men crossing a little bridge near the bottom. Again, the point is that Romans are good at building things, good with technology, while the Dacians are hopeless and the Romans are really doing them a big favor by conquering them. That’s not what the Dacians thought, though!

Here you can see a lot of Roman soldiers with their shields over their heads in the testudo formation (it means “turtle”). This scene, again, shows how organized the Roman army is. They can coordinate a complicated manoeuvre like this, with each man protecting the men on either side of him. But the Dacians (according to the Romans) just fight in a disorganized mess, and that’s why the Romans were able to defeat them.

Trajan's column: a bunch of Roman soldiers in the testudo formation

Trajan’s column: a bunch of Roman soldiers in the testudo formation

Use a paper towel cardboard roll to draw your own story on a column
More about Trajan’s Forum

Bibliography and further reading about Trajan’s Column:

 

You Are in Ancient Rome, by Ivan Minnis (2004). For younger kids.

Ancient Rome: A Guide to the Glory of Imperial Rome, by Jonathan Stroud (2000). A day as a time-travelling tourist in ancient Rome, for kids.

Spend the Day in Ancient Rome : Projects and Activities that Bring the Past to Life, by Linda Honan (1998). Has an activity for making your own column out of a paper-towel roll.

Trajan’s Column, by Frank Lepper and Sheppard Frere (2005).

Trajan’s column and the Dacian wars, by Lino Rossi (1971). Rather out of date.

Roman Art: Romulus to Constantine, by Nancy and Andrew Ramage (4th Edition 2004).The standard textbook.

Trajan’s Forum
The Column of Marcus Aurelius
More Roman art
Ancient Rome
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By | 2017-08-28T09:05:37+00:00 August 28th, 2017|Art, Romans|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Trajan’s Column – Roman art – Dacian Wars. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 28, 2017. Web. December 11, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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