Archaeological Museum of Bologna

Museo Civico Archeologico
Via dell'Archiginnasio 2 - 40124 Bologna

Direzione e Uffici
Via de' Musei 8 – 40124 Bologna
Tel. - Fax


  • banner sezioni

Collections / Sections / Roman Bologna


Basilica's drawing (draw. Elena Cané, copyright Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna)

More info

The forum is emblematic: despite the lack of solid archaeological evidence, its position at the intersection of the cardo maximus and the decumanus maximus has been ascertained, as the foundations of a series of buildings along its sides have now been identified.

The most notable building is the civic basilica, an alternative space with respect to the forum square. The site of judiciary proceedings, commercial transactions and administrative offices, the basilica was discovered under what is now the Sala Borsa Library. The initial structure, erected between the late 2nd and the early 1st centuries BC, probably occupied a rectangular space that was about 20–22 metres wide and 70 long, divided into a nave – the widest section – and two aisles. It seems likely that in this first phase wood was used extensively for the bearing structures and terracotta for the decorative elements, as testified by the antefixes with Gorgons’ heads that decorated the roof. During the reign of Augustus the basilica acquired a monumental appearance, as the wood and terracotta were replaced with stone and marble. It also housed an official gallery of statues, representing several figures from the imperial circle, that were clearly celebratory in scope; the head-portrait of Octavia was part of this group.

Under the emperor Trajan the basilica was modified yet again in terms of layout and size, and was widened by 5 metres. The last restructuring work was done between the late 2nd and the early 3rd centuries AD, the period of the relief with putti holding a festoon.

Along the west side there was a row of small quadrangular spaces that can be interpreted as tabernae, small shops overlooking the forum square, which – as early as the Augustan period – was banned to vehicles. Access to it was monumentalized by erecting an arch at what is now the intersection of Via Ugo Bassi and Via Indipendenza.

Go back to introduction


Exhibition rooms | Room XII - Roman Bologna