Lanciani’s Forma Urbis Romae is a cartographic synthesis of the history of Rome, as it depicts the city’s diachronic development from ancient to post-classical phases. The Forma Urbis Romae is a splendid cartographic exemplar, printed in serial installments over a ten-year period leading up to its definitive publication in 1901. The capacious map, which measures approximately 17 x 24 feet, is rendered at the scale of 1:1000. It reveals more comprehensive and detailed information about the historical topography and built fabric than any prior—or subsequent—map of Rome. Its meticulous cartographic system captures topographic, architectural and archeological details, including distinct color-coded “layers” of historical epochs: ancient and medieval Rome in black, early modern Rome in red and Roma Capitale—the city after 1870 that was known to Lanciani—rendered in blue. The resultant stratigraphy allows the observer to simultaneously see changes over time. Embedded in his map, Lanciani provided references to a wealth of information for countless archeological sites in Rome. He cross-referenced thousands of pages of textual content through his 3,000 or so annotations plotted on the Forma Urbis Romae.
Our team has devoted parts of the last five years digitizing the entire 46 plates of the Forma Urbis Romae, creating a layered, vector version of the map while carefully maintaining the graphic integrity and symbology of the original. As part of this process, we are also vectorizing the 1748 Nuova Pianta di Roma of G.B. Nolli. Similarly, we are adapting other highly reliable and accurate sources (e.g. a modern-day survey of the city by S.A.R.A. NISTRI) for use in the map.