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Artwork Description: Column of Trajan

The artwork is normally one of the ways of keeping history. Artwork can be of different forms, including paintings, statues, carvings, columns, and monuments. The ancient people preferred to raise monuments in order to preserve their history for as long as the monument will be in existence. The builders considered culture, religion, and traditions while building the monument (Worth, Lecuyer, & Wade, 1996). The monuments and other works when viewed today, a person can interpret the setting of the community that built it. In order to understand art, one needs to understand its physicality too. The paper is about the Trajan Column in Rome. It elaborates on the physical elements of the column as well as its social, cultural, and historical elements.

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Trajan’s Column is a triumphal column situated in the capital of Italy, Rome. The purpose of the column is to commemorate Trajan, the Roman Empire, after his victory in Dacian wars. The construction of the column was under the supervision of architecture Apollodorus. Apollodorus was from Damascus. The column stands at Trajan’s Forum. Its completion took place in 113 AD.

The dimensions of the column are evident. It is about 98ft (30 meters) high, 125ft (35 meters) wide. The builders of the column made its shaft using 20 colossal Carrara marble drums. The shaft’s diameter is 11ft. The frieze that is 625ft (190 meters) winds around the shaft 23 times (Pollen, 2011).

The constructors lifted the capital block (53.3 tons in weight) up to 34 meters above the ground. To complete the column, they put a statue of Trajan at the top. The statue of Trajan deteriorated with time due to wear and tear until it finally disappeared. Currently, a bronze figure curved to mimic the appearance of St Peter stands at the top of the column.

According to Stephenson (2013), frieze forms the largest part of the column. Twenty-nine Luna marble blocks are the shaft of the column. The spiral staircase made of 19 blocks with 14 steps make a full turn of the staircase. The column was not complete without decoration. The constructors decorated the walls with carvings and paintings that described their culture and the political state at the time of its construction (Lepper and Frère, 2002).

The walls have carved decorations of sailors, soldiers, statesmen and priests. At some point, there are two sections with trophies on each side to represent victory. Sculptors of military men looking up to the emperor and others of the military engaging the Dacians are present in the frieze. The highlight of the column is the inscription at its foot. The inscription is a dedication of the column to Emperor Ceaser, the son of Nerva, from the Senate of Rome.

Description of Trajan column using the social, cultural and historical content

The Trajan column surely is a historical monument to commemorate heroes in Italy. The column portrays the social elements of the people before 113 AD (Sroiculescu et al., 2014). Within the frieze, we find carvings used as decorations. The sculptures show sailors, statesmen, soldiers, and priests. From the carvings, researchers can conclude that the people at that time practised trade and fishing using the boats.

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The images of statesmen portray the political aspects of the people. At the time, the emperors ruled the towns of Italy. The soldiers in the painting represent the military men that went to war. Trajan was a military man, and the column serves to remember him and many other soldiers that engaged that Dacians with him (Sroiculescu et al., 2014). The priests in the carvings are a perfect history that the people of Rome were Christians. Religion was common, and it formed a part of the society.

Culture is the way people live their lives, beliefs and practices that guide them. Ancient Romans were traders. The people traded with other countries to acquire what they did not have (Derudder, Bassens, and Witlox, 2013). An Emperor led the towns. The emperor also headed the Senate. The Senate made and implemented the rules that guided the Romans. From the military, a leader was appointed to lead the soldiers to conquer their enemies. Trajan is the leader being commemorated by a monument in this case. It was a culture for the senate to honour a hero as in this case, Trajan is honoured by the column.

The Trajan column was built in 113 AD. So much history is derived from the monument (Campbell, 2000). The method of construction is an illustration of the architecture of the Romans at that time. The Romans possessed barbaric arms, and their methods of war were crude as viewed by the forts, ships and the weapons on the carvings in the frieze. History on the inscription revealed that the inscription was read from below, and the letters at the bottom of the monument were smaller than those on the top. The writing shows the level of the writing and the historical mode of writing by Romans (Kirkpatrick, 2013).


Artworks are essential in preserving history. The details of an artwork often tell more things about an object as compared to what the eye can see. The Trajan column is a historical monument to commemorate the victory. Like many other monuments, this one was built with the features to make it memorable and understandable to the people today. The column reveals so many aspects of the past that describes ancient ways of life for the Romans.


Derudder, B., Bassens, D., and Witlox, F. (2013). Political-geographic interpretation of massive air transport developments in Gulf cities. Political Geography, 36, pp. A4-A7.

Campbell, B. (2000). The writings of the Roman Land Surveyors. Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary. London: Roman Society Publications.

Kirkpatrick, J. (2013). Rome: Continuing Encounters between Past and Present. Journal of Historical Geography, 40, pp. 110-111.

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Lepper, F. and Frère, S. (2002). Trajan’s Column: The Detailed Character of the Monument. Sroud: Sutton Publishers.

Pollen, J. H. (2011). A Description of the Trajan Column. London: Adegi Graphics LLC.

Sroiculescu, R. C. & Huzui, A. E., Gavrilidis, A., Nita, A., Patru-Stupariu, I. G., Calin, I. & Cuciulan, A. (2014). What is the spatial link between the Roman civilization and cultural landscape in Romania? Journal of Maps, 10(2), pp.297-307.

Stephenson, J. W. (2013). The column of Trajan in the light of ancient cartography and geography. Journal of Historical Geography, 40, pp. 79-93.

Worth, G.A. Lecuyer, C. Wade, R.C. (1996). TRAJAN: A tool for analyzing trajectories from molecular simulation. Journal of Molecular Graphics, 14(3), pp. 173-182.

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