The Roman Forum
The Forum Romanum, the Roman name for what we usually call the Roman Forum, was the center of the Roman Empire’s power.
The Forum came into existence at a crossing of two important roads. One ran parallel to the Tiber River, the other perpendicular. From the beginning, the Forum was required to satisfy two fundamental needs: the need for people to meet, and the need of them to exchange goods. The many separate communities of the Italian peninsula where first united by the Etruscans in the seventh century B.C. Traditionally, these Etruscans always used a central square for business matters. Tarquinius Priscus, the first Etruscan king, reclaimed the swampy valleys in the area that were being used as cemeteries, and started to pave them. They would later grow into a center for social life.
In the early stages of its life, the Forum was mainly for business. Multitudinous shops called tabernae could be found there. The Forum also had religious and political functions. Already at an early stage the Comitium (paved area in front of the senate building) and the temple of Vesta arose. New temples were built by the Roman Republic, like the temple of Saturn and the temple of Castor and Pollux. In the third century B.C., the time of the Punic wars, Roman power in the Mediterranean increased. This striving for power led to new building projects and styles at the Forum in which Rome tried to display its power. In this time Rome started to turn the Forum into a monument.
During the period of 100 B.C. to 100 A.D., the Forum underwent some sweeping transformations, primarily caused by the downfall of the republic. Its importance as a commercial center declined, and it was used more as political and administrative hub. However, government issues were no longer...