By Dr Jon Coulston
Last updated 2011-02-17
Trajan's Column and the Tropaeum Traiani
Two monuments bearing sculptures depicting aspects of Trajan's Dacian Wars across the Danube (101 - 102 AD and 105- 106 AD) survive: Trajan's Column in Rome (112 AD) and the Trophy of Trajan (Tropaeum Traiani) in south-eastern Romania (108 - 109 AD). The Column depicts a loose narrative of the wars on a 200m-long helical frieze, which depicts more than 2,600 human figures, plus animals, architecture and scenery.
The frieze presents the army marching into Dacia, constructing military installations, fighting the local barbarians, besieging enemy fortresses and eventually driving the Dacian king, Decebalus, to suicide, and capturing his treasure. The latter went to pay for the massive complex of forum, basilica and libraries for which the Column was a central point.
The Tropaeum had a frieze of rectangular panels (metopes) each showing two or more figures of Romans and assorted barbarian enemies. Carved locally by legionary troops, these are a valuable foil for the metropolitan sculptures of the Column.
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