Rubbing From Trajan’s Column
Trajan’s Column was erected 106-113 C.E. in Trajan’s Forum in Rome to
commemorate his victories over Dacia. The 100 foot tall column is made
of marble quarried near Cararra and is covered by a continuous
low-relief sculpture depicting Trajan’s Dacian campaigns. The column and
capital were constructed from 20 separate blocks of marble and the
column contains a spiral stair leading to an observation platform at the
top. The pedestal supporting the column is about 25 feet tall and served
as Trajan’s tomb after his death in 117. Originally the column was
topped by a bronze eagle, but that was replaced by a statue of Trajan
after his death. The statue of Trajan, now lost, was replaced by a
statue of Saint Peter in 1588. The inscription over the door in the
pedestal has long been regarded as one of the finest examples of Roman
letter forms and has been the basis for many type faces.
The King Library Press collection includes a rubbing of the pedestal
inscription made circa 1920 by Ernst Detterer. The rubbing is on paper
which was mounted on a fabric backing and varnished. It was given by R.
Hunter Middleton in 1968.
A detail of the rubbing showing the first three letters. The size of the
lettering is scaled – those highest are the largest. Those on the top
row are about 12 cm tall while those on the bottom are about 9.5 cm.
The inscription is in capital letters without word breaks and uses
several abbreviated forms. There is some damage and a few letters are
now missing or obscured. Below is a copy of the inscription and an
Senatus populusque Romanus
Imperatori Caesari Divi Nervae Filio Nervae
Traiano Augusto Germanico Dacico Pontifici
Maximo tribunicia potestate XVII Imperatori VI Consuli VI Patri Patriae
ad declarandum quantae altitudinis
mons et locus tantis operibus sit egestus
FOR FURTHER REFERENCE
See the McMaster Trajan Project
for more information on the column including numerous photographs.