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Hadrian’s Serapeum in Rome

Hadrian’s Serapeum in Rome

Doubts persist about the identity and origins of the colossal temple on the Quirinal Hill in Rome, of which only small fragments remain. The present article confirms its identity as a temple of Serapis, but ascribes it to Hadrian and Antoninus Pius rather than the Severans, as most scholars since Hülsen have done. The Severan phase, it argues, was limited to a few possible restorations of the temple proper, a new surrounding portico, and the grand opus latericium staircase ascending the hill to the temple. It traces the journey of a series of Proconnesian columns from the incipient Pantheon porch, where Hadrian’s engineers failed to find a way to erect them; to the new Serapeum on the Quirinal, designed to accommodate the colossal order that had failed the Pantheon; and finally, after a partial collapse of the Serapeum porch, to the Basilica of Maxentius, whence Paul V transferred a single column shaft to the Piazza S. Maria Maggiore. Special attention is given to antiquarian illustrations of the remains, especially those of Palladio, whose Pantheon-like plan of the Serapeum porch is vindicated; and to the statuary that is attested in the vicinity of the temple.

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Hadrian’s Serapeum in Rome

By Rabun Taylor

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 108, No. 2 (April 2004), pp. 223–266

DOI: 10.3764/aja.108.2.223

© 2004 Archaeological Institute of America