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Views of Rome is the online home of the 1773 edition of Pirro Ligorio’s Anteiquae Urbis Imago (Image of the Ancient City) held at Emory University. Originally published in 1561, the Imago is a cartographic reconstruction of fourth-century AD Rome. A high-resolution scan of the map exists as an interactive digital tool for use by students in the classroom and by members of the general public.

The Map

Anteiquae Urbis Imago (Image of the Ancient City), Pirro Ligorio, 1561
Engraving
Published by Michele Tramezzino, republished 1773 by Carlo Losi
132.1 x 152.4 cm (52 x 60 inches)
Michael C. Carlos Museum 2007.35.1
Available at MARBL, Emory Library Catalog Call No. G6714 .R7 L53 1773 FOLIO

The Anteiquae Urbis Imago represents the culmination of Ligorio’s considerable knowledge and skill as an antiquarian, architect, and artist. Like its immediate predecessors, most notably Leonard Bufalini’s 1551 map of modern Rome, the Imago is oriented such that north is to the left. Ligorio drew upon ancient literary testimony, coins, inscriptions, reliefs, and archaeological remains in order to locate and give form to the structural inhabitants of the ancient city. The map is a visual manifestation of his arguments concerning these matters of topography and original appearance, employing bird’s eye perspective as a means of illustration. The map is also a reflection of Ligorio’s antiquarian interest in exhibiting the city to his audience as a restored whole. That is to say that Ligorio extrapolated the evidence at his disposal in order to account for missing information, preferring to fill in the blank spaces rather than represent a city of fragmented parts.

Selected Bibliography:  D. Coffin, Pirro Ligorio: The Renaissance Artist, Architect and Antiquarian, with a Checkist of Drawings (University Park 2004); J. Connors, Piranesi and the Campus Martius: The Missing Corso. Topography and Archaeology in Eighteenth-Century Rome (Milan 2011) 57-60; R. Gaston, Pirro Ligorio: Artist and Antiquarian (Milan 1988); E. R. Varner (forthcoming 2013).

The Project

Physical consultation and study of the Imago can pose a challenge—the map is a rare artifact and exists as twelve large individual plates, each measuring 60 x 45 cm (approx 24 x 18 inches). Views of Rome allows users to easily explore the great Imago in its entirety and at an amazing level of detail from anywhere in the world. To facilitate learning, clickable overlays within the interactive tool provide links to articles about the structures represented on the map. The articles provide historical information, discussion of Ligorio’s reconstructions, images, and bibliographies to aid users with more in-depth research. To further this end, the project also seeks to highlight pertinent Renaissance and Early Modern printed volumes and works on paper housed within the collections of the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) and the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory. A listing of available materials can be found here.

These aspects of Views of Rome provide educational opportunities for students not only to learn but also to contribute to the generation of the site’s information. Emory students, faculty, and library staff are working together in a dynamic process of content development. The first stage of this collaboration occurred in the fall semester of 2012 in an upper-level undergraduate course entitled “Reconstructing Ancient Rome in the Renaissance,” taught by Dr. Eric Varner, Associate Professor of Art History and Classics. Students were asked to choose a monument from the map, develop a bibliography, and compose an article suitable for publication on the website using the WordPress-based browser interface. Some of the work produced by these students is now available. Upcoming course offerings will provide additional opportunities for student involvement and interaction with Ligorio’s Imago and this new digital tool.

The Team

Faculty: Eric Varner and Sarah McPhee, Art History Department
Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) Team
Original Digital Scholarship Commons (DiSC) Project Manager: Brian Croxall
Graduate Student Researcher: Katherine Cupello, Art History Department
Librarian Team Members: David Faulds, Kim Collins, and Michael Page
Software Development Team: Kyle Bock and Jay Varner
Digitization and Digital Curation Team: Kyle Fenton, Brian Methot, and Paige Knight

Other digital scholarship projects pertaining to Rome