The Sacred Area of Largo Argentina

The Sacred Area of Largo Argentina was uncovered during demolition work begun in 1926 in the district bounded by via del Tearro Argentina, via Florida, via di st. Nicola de' Cesarini and Corso Vittorio. Vour temples are visible to this day, fronting onto a paved square. Given the uncertainty of their hypothetical identification these have been labelled with the first four letters of the alphabet. The square appears today as it did during Rome's Imperial period, following a long period of development from the middle of the Republican period onwards.

Towards the end of the fourth centruy BC temple C was constructed on what was the original ground level. Temple A was built mid way through the third century and temple D was added to the group at the start of the second centruy BC. Following what may have been the fire of 111 BC that destroyed much of the city, the ground level was raised 1.4 metres. A unifying paved quadrant was laid out in tufa blocks in front of the temples. The round temple B was built in the space between A and C.

A wall in tufa blocks with various entrances delimited the square's eastern limit. The three other sides were bounded by a series of pillared porticoes.

This unified appearance of the square has been identified as the Porticus minucia vetus founded by the Counsul M. Minucius Rufus in 107 BC following his victory over the Scordisci, a Thratian people.

During the first century BC the area was caught up in the radical changes that were to mark the entire central zone of the Campus Marrius. These involved the construction of the theatre of Pompey, the porticoes behind to the west and the Hecatostylum (the portico of a hundred columns) to the north. The earliest phase of the buildings constructed in the space between temples is dated to the first century BC. They have been identified as the Statio Squarum, the department in charge of water distribution in the city.

In 80 AD most of the Campus Marrius, including this area, was burnt to the ground. During the reigh of the Emperor Domitian the area underwent further radical alterations.

In front of the temples the ground level was raised once again and paved with travertine slabs. The temples' facades were rebuilt, as was the surrounding portico.

Following this period of renovation the overall appearance of the square was to remain unaltered until late Roman times. It was the gradual urbanisation of the area during the medieval period that was to lead to considerable changes. Both civil and religious buildings were superimposed onto the Roman merging the older structures into the fabric of the medieval city.