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Rodolfo Lanciani (1845-1929)

Was an illustrious professor of the topography of ancient Rome, author of innumerable studies, including the important volume “Forma Urbis Romae” which was published between 1893 and 1901. The Archives possess the original autographed papers.

signature of Rodolfo Lanciani
Document with the signature of Rodolfo Lanciani
(Historical Archives, Palazzo Altemps)

Rodolfo Lanciani photo group
Rodoldo Lanciani (fourth from the left) in a group
photo of the period (from Storia di Roma tra
Campidoglio e Tevere, Roma 1994)

Rodolfo Lanciani (born Montecelio, 1845, died Rome 1929), was Secretary of the “Commissione Archeologica Comunale” from its foundation (1872). As excavation engineer he was part of the Direzione Generale of Museums and Excavations of the Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione and took part in many archaeological investigations.

In 1882 Rodolfo Lanciani was nominated chair of Roman Topography at La Sapienza, University of Rome. He held this post until 1927. The most important of his hundreds of publications is still Forma Urbis Romae e la "Storia degli scavi di Roma e le notizie intorno alle collezioni romane di antichità".

La Forma Urbis Romae (Roma - Milano, 1893 - 1901), is a map of ancient Rome realised using the cartographic parameters of the period. It consists of 46 large tables in scale 1:1000, each marking the position of archaeological remains and ancient monuments up to the end of the VI century. While the maps have undergone revision and correction in the light of recent acquisitions, the Forma Urbis is still today a fundamental source for any study of Roman topography.

"Storia degli scavi di Roma e le notizie intorno alle collezioni romane di antichità"(History of the excavations in Rome and information on Roman collections of antiquities) is the collection of all archive research carried out by Lanciani, ordered into thousands of files contained in tens of volumes related to ancient, medioeval and modern topography. The volumes also contain references to excavations, museums, galleries, libraries and collections of antiquities.

The first four volumes of the “Storia degli scavi di Roma”were published between 1902 and 1912. The complete 6 volume edtion of “Storia degli scavi di Roma”, covering the period from 1000 to 1879 was edited from 1989 to 2000 by Istituto Nazionale di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte. In 2002 a seventh volume of analytical indices was added.

The manuscripts, donated to the Vatican Library by Rodolfo Lanciani, have also been recently published, edited by Marco Buonocore.

The whole collection, consisting of books, prints, drawings, manuscripts, files and notes, was bought by the State and is conserved in the “Istituto di Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte di Roma”


  • A. Cederna, Bibliografia degli studi sulla vita e sulle opere di Rodolfo Lanciani, in R. Lanciani, L’antica Roma, Roma 1981 (riedizione di R. Lanciani, Ancient Rome in the light of recent discoveries, Boston 1889), p. VII – VIII.
  • F. Coarelli, Prefazione, Ed. Roma 1989 di R. Lanciani, Forma Urbis Romae, Roma-Milano 1893-1901.
  • F. Zevi, Lanciani e Roma, in Ed. Roma 1989 di R. Lanciani, Storia degli scavi di Roma, Roma, Vol. I, pp. 1-8

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Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma © Archivio di documentazione archeologica 2004-07,last revision 2005-2-7, last update by editors