Last week, we talked about the fascinating 3D rendering of the Pompeii disaster of 79 AD. Well this time around, we have decided to go the route of the eternal city itself – Rome. An incredible fruit of collaboration between the Rome Reborn project and Khan Academy, the video in question gives us a fascinating tour through the ancient mega city in its arguably peak form in 320 AD. In essence, this was the period when emperor Constantine was successful in once again centralizing the power of the state, while also endowing freedom of worship for Christians. In many ways, this short epoch of stability became the ‘last hurrah’ of glory for the ancient stronghold – before the Roman Empire was divided, and consequently Rome lost its significance in the coming centuries.
As overseer of the Rome Reborn project Dr. Bernard Frischer, makes it clear why 320 AD was chosen as the subject of the video tour –
[320 AD was] the peak of Rome’s development, certainly in terms of public architecture, for the simple reason that the Emperor at this time was Constantine the Great.
And even beyond just the ‘starring’ emperor, the period of Constantine is crucial for history because that was the time when Rome possibly reached the peak of its population (that easily crossed the threshold of a million people) and urban development. Moreover, even from the perspective of architectural triumphs, this period mirrored the rise of major Christian churches, while the post era (after 320 AD) defined the unfortunate abandonment of major engineering or constructional undertakings. Simply put, most of what we know about Rome in our modern age comes from this age, along with the glorious preceding years before the rise of Constantine.