A Second Triumphal Arch of Titus Discovered

Archaeology news


The excavation site of a second triumphal arch of Titus in Rome’s Circus Maximus. Photo: Courtesy the Telegraph.

Archaeologists in Rome have discovered the foundations of a second triumphal arch of Roman Emperor Titus, which was thought to be lost to history, the Telegraph reports. The arch once stood at the entrance to ancient Rome’s chariot-racing stadium, the Circus Maximus.

A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus was emperor of Rome from 79 to 81 A.D. Even though he responded quickly with aid when Vesuvius erupted barely two months into his reign in 79 and is credited with completing the Colosseum in 80, it is the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and his victory against the Jews in 70 when he was just a general that has made Titus one of the more well-known figures in Roman history.

Herod’s desert fortress on the mountaintop of Masada was made famous as the site of the last stand between the besieged Jewish rebels and the relentlessly advancing Romans at the conclusion of the First Jewish Revolt. In the free ebook Masada: The Dead Sea’s Desert Fortress, discover what archaeology reveals about the defenders’ identity, fortifications and arms before their ultimate sacrifice.

Scenes of Titus’s victory in Judaea—culminating with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem—decorate the world-famous monumental Arch of Titus that stands on the Via Sacra in the Roman Forum. A major tourist attraction, this triumphal arch commemorates Titus’s conquest of Judaea and contains a well-known relief showing Roman soldiers carrying spoils from the Temple, including the menorah, the showbread table and trumpets (see image below).


Relief from the famous “first” Arch of Titus depicting Roman soldiers carrying the menorah, the showbread table and trumpets from the Temple in Jerusalem. Photo: Robin Ngo.

The newly discovered second triumphal arch, erected in 81 A.D. immediately after Titus’s death, once stood 49 feet high and 56 feet wide. The existence of the arch has been known since the Medieval period through historical accounts, but the remains of the arch have only come to light recently. Archaeologists excavating at the eastern end of the Circus Maximus unearthed more than 300 marble fragments belonging to this second triumphal arch of Titus.


A CAD drawing showing a reconstruction of a second triumphal arch of Titus discovered in the Circus Maximus. Photo: Courtesy the Telegraph.

Archaeologists hope to reconstruct the arch, but it will not be an easy feat. Cultural heritage official Claudio Parisi Presicce explained in an interview with the Telegraph that reconstruction cannot commence until enough money can be raised and a system of tunnels to block flooding at the site can be constructed.

Read more in the Telegraph.

Estelle Reed is an intern at the Biblical Archaeology Society.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

The Masada Siege: The Roman assault on Herod’s desert fortress

Judaea Capta Coin Uncovered in Bethsaida Excavations

Coins Celebrating the Great Revolt Against the Romans Unearthed near Jerusalem

Jewish Captives in the Imperial City

How Ancient Jews Dated Years


1 Responses

  1. Kurt says:

    Triumphal procession

    A formal procession in celebration of victory over an enemy. The Greek word thri·am·beuʹo, meaning “lead in a triumphal procession,” occurs only twice in the Scriptures, each time in a somewhat different illustrative setting.—2Co 2:14; Col 2:15.

    Triumphal Processions Among the Nations. Egypt, Assyria, and other nations commemorated their military victories with triumphal processions. In the days of the Roman republic, one of the highest honors the Senate could bestow on a conquering general was to allow him to celebrate his victory with a formal and costly procession of triumph in which no detail of pomp and glory was overlooked.

    The Roman procession moved slowly along Via Triumphalis and up the winding ascent to the temple of Jupiter atop the Capitoline Hill. Musicians playing and singing songs of victory were at the front, followed by young men leading the sacrificial cattle. Then came open carts loaded with booty, and tremendous floats illustrating battle scenes or the destruction of cities and temples, and perhaps topped with a figure of the vanquished commander. The captive kings, princes, and generals taken in the war, with their children and attendants, were led along in chains, often stripped naked, to their humiliation and shame.

    Next came the general’s chariot, decorated in ivory and gold, wreathed with laurel, and drawn by four white horses or, on occasion, by elephants, lions, tigers, or deer. The conqueror’s children sat at his feet or rode in a separate chariot behind him. Roman consuls and magistrates followed on foot, then the lieutenants and military tribunes with the victorious army—all bedecked with garlands of laurel and gifts, and singing songs of praise to their leader. In the vanguard were the priests and their attendants bringing along the chief victim for sacrifice, a white ox.

    As the procession passed through the city, the populace threw flowers before the victor’s chariot, and burning incense on temple altars perfumed the way. This sweet odor signified honors, promotion, wealth, and a more secure life for the victorious soldiers, but it signified death to the unpardoned captives who would be executed at the end of the procession. This fact throws light on Paul’s spiritual application of the illustration at 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.

    Triumphal arches were built in honor of some generals. The Arch of Titus in Rome still commemorates the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.Accompanied by his father, Emperor Vespasian, Titus celebrated his victory over Jerusalem by a triumphal procession. Some arches served as city gates, but for the most part their function was only monumental. The design of the arches may have represented the yoke of submission under which captives were forced to march.

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