From 2010, the German Archaeological Institute in Rome (DAI), in collaboration with the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma (SSBAR), has created a topographical map covering the underground rooms of the Domus Aurea and the overlying level of Trajan’s Baths now forming part of the park on the Oppian Hill.
All the detailed archaeological recordings for the Domus Aurea worksite are carried out within this reference framework.
The recording project aims to create a graphic support of assistance in all the conservation interventions currently underway, from the repair of collapsed vaults to the consolidation of frescoed surfaces, and to provide an exhaustive and complete reading of all the structures investigated, from a purely scientific and archaeological point of view as well.
The recordings, mainly on scales of 1:100 and 1:50, contain several levels of information on the ancient structure, including a complete picture of the lesions and gaps present in vaults and walls, a map of earlier restorations and the necessary archaeological interpretation of the monument in all its phases.
The project to repair the vaults, currently underway in a series of Neronian rooms known as the “Little Barracks”, is one example of how these recordings are used. Recording the actual state of the structure, and its archaeological interpretation, are the basis for repair work.
Similarly, in the case of the numerous frescoes adorning the walls and vaults of rooms in the Domus Aurea, the detailed recording of the plasterwork also supplies a foundation for the conservators’ consolidation work.
All the construction features, and the numerous phases between the building’s construction under Nero, its readaptations in subsequent decades up to Trajan’s major building project, and all the traces of different uses of these spaces from Late Antiquity until the present, are the object in the field of a careful archaeological study, followed by instrumental recording of the surfaces. The data thus collected in the field are later processed in CAD. Using this method we have been able to obtain, as the final result, a vectorial recording with 2D and 3D data without losing the traditional direct contact with the ancient structure, the only approach that truly allows for a correct understanding.
In every room of the Domus Aurea, and for all types of intervention, the archaeological recording, as a phase of in-depth examination and study, has turned out to be of fundamental importance for a safeguard project that inevitably relies on a sound scientific understanding of the monument to be safeguarded.