After the feverish archaeological activity of the Fascist era, the postwar years in Rome have been a period of relative calm. There have been a few major discoveries, such as the Vatican cemetery and the new catacomb of the Via Latina, the recently published account of which is unfortunately marred by the poor quality of the colour-plates, inexcusable in a volume of this price. On the whole, however, excavation has very sensibly been diverted to clearing up specific problems, notably in the Forum and Palatine, and students of Roman topography and monuments have had a chance to pause and take stock. The results of this much-needed stock-taking are just beginning to appear, and very valuable they are proving to be.
One of the most important and remarkable monuments of classical antiquity to have come down to us, at any rate in part, is the great marble plan of Rome which Septimius Severus set up on the end wall of a large room opening off the south-west corner of the Forum of Peace, a wall which is now the outer south wall of the church of SS Cosmas and Damian. The fragments recovered since their first recognition in 1562 represent barely a tenth of the total inscribed surface, and many of these were lost before, in 1741, the collection passed from the Farnese family into the safe-keeping of the city authorities, and are known to us only from drawings. But what has survived is fundamental for the reconstruction of the topography of classical Rome and for the study of its lost monuments.
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