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Trajan's Bridge, Apollodorus' Bridge over Danube.

The Bridge


 Trajan's Column

76 98 15 b257,258

These Roman praetorians are distinguished by their wreathed standards.  No less than five different cohorts identified after their shields, are arriving at a town on the Danube. The sailor at the extreme left is clearing some woods, part of the previous scene. In front is Trajan pointing toward the bridge ahead.



258,259,260, 261

The emperor is depicted sacrificing in front of what is most likely Apollodorus' famous Danube bridge.


76. 99 15b-c 259,260, Emperor Trajan with his master builder Apollodorus and soldiers presenting an offering before the bridge over the Danube. Trajan had the bridge constructed in 103-105 AD at Drobeta, the modern-day Turnu-Severin in Romania.

 The sestertius illustrated here dates from about AD 105 and likely commemorates the bridge, symbolizing it with a single span. One can see the fortifications or castra that guarded access to the bridge itself.

The coin is from the Freeman & Sear Catalog 12 (2005), item 561.


 Trajan's Bridge 103-105 AD. Model in the museum at the original site, Turnu Severin (Iron Gate), Romania
 Designed and engineered by  Apollodorus of Damascus, who  used wooden arches set on twenty masonry pillars (made with bricks, mortar and pozzolana cement) that spanned 38-meters each, it is very likely that soldiers of the seventh Claudia Legion were employed to do the actual building. Trajan's architect, Apollodorus of Damascus, chose a spot where the Danube has a constant height of about eight yards. That enabled him to construct the bridge with 20 pillars, The remains of the first two pillars are still visible on both sides of the river.
It was built over an unusually short period of time (between 103 and 105)

 — one possible explanation is that the river was diverted during the bridge's construction.

The twenty pillars could still be seen in the year 1856, when the level of the Danube hit a record low. In 1906, the International Commission of the Danube decided to destroy two of the pillars that were obstructing navigation. In 1932, there were 16 remaining pillars underwater, but in 1982 only 12 were mapped by archeologists — the other four had probably been swept away by water. Only the entrance pillars are nowadays visible on either bank of the Danube



 One section of the bridge


One pillar



Apollodorus of Damascus, the Architect.


Apollodorus of Damascus

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Apollodorus of Damascus, bust from 130/140 AD in the Glyptothek
The monumental Danube Bridge of Apollodorus. Apollodorus himself stands in the foreground behind the sacrificing emperor.[1]

Apollodorus of Damascus was a Greek engineer, architect, designer and sculptor who flourished during the 2nd century AD, from Damascus, Roman Syria.[2] He was a favourite of Trajan, for whom he constructed Trajan's Bridge over the Danube for the 105-106 campaign in Dacia. He also designed the Forum Trajanum and Trajan's Column within the city of Rome, beside several smaller projects. Apollodorus also designed the triumphal arches of Trajan at Beneventum and Ancona. He is also widely credited as the architect of the Pantheon, and cited as the builder of the Alconétar Bridge in Spain. In 106 he also completed or restored the odeon begun in the Campus Martius under Domitian.

Trajan's Column, in the centre of the Forum, is celebrated as being the first triumphal monument of its kind. On the accession of Hadrian, whom he had offended by ridiculing his performances as architect and artist, Apollodorus was banished and, shortly afterwards, being charged with imaginary crimes, put to death.[3] He also wrote a treatise on Siege Engines (Πολιορκητικά), which was dedicated to Hadrian.

The story about Apollodorus' death demonstrates the persistent hostility felt towards Hadrian in senatorial circles long after his reign, for if Cassius Dio included it in his history, he must have believed it. Many since have taken Dio's anecdote at face value, but there is much in this story that does not add up and many scholars[weasel words] dismiss its historicity altogether.[4]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Giuliana Calcani, Maamoun Abdulkarim (2003), Apollodorus of Damascus and Trajan's Column: From Tradition to Project, L'Erma di Bretschneider, p. 55, ISBN 8882652335
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, Apollodorus of Damascus, "Greek engineer and architect who worked primarily for the Roman emperor Trajan."
    George Sarton (1936), "The Unity and Diversity of the Mediterranean World", Osiris 2: 406-463 [430]
    Giuliana Calcani, Maamoun Abdulkarim (2003), Apollodorus of Damascus and Trajan's Column: From Tradition to Project, L'Erma di Bretschneider, p. 11, ISBN 8882652335, "...focusing on the brilliant architect Apollodorus of Damascus. This famous Syrian personage represents..."
    Hong-Sen Yan, Marco Ceccarelli (2009), International Symposium on History of Machines and Mechanisms: Proceedings of HMM 2008, Springer, p. 86, ISBN 1402094841, "He had Syrian origins coming from Damascus"
  3. ^ Dio Cassius lxix. 4
  4. ^ For instance: R. T. Ridley, "Apollodoros of Damascus" (1989).

[edit] References


Apollodorus of Damascus 

Apollodorus of Damascus (active first quarter second century CE): Roman architect, courtier of the emperor Trajan.

The Roman architect Apollodorus of Damascus is mentioned in only two ancient sources, but we can also identify several of his buildings. The first source is Cassius Dio:

[The emperor Hadrian] first banished and later put to death Apollodorus, the architect, who had built the various creations of Trajan in Rome: the forum, the odeum and the gymnasium. The reason assigned was that he had been guilty of some misdemeanor, but the true reason was that once when Trajan was consulting him on some point about the buildings he had said to Hadrian, who had interrupted with some remark: "Be off, and draw your gourds. You don't understand any of these matters." (It chanced that Hadrian at the time was pluming himself upon some such drawing.)
Hadrian's temple of Venus and Roma, seen from the Colosseum: as you can see, Apollodorus' advise to build it on high ground and to create a basement, were accepted.

When he became emperor, therefore, he remembered this slight and would not endure the man's freedom of speech. He sent him the plan of the temple of Venus and Roma by way of showing him that a great work could be accomplished without his aid, and asked Apollodorus whether the proposed structure was satisfactory. The architect in his reply stated, first, in regard to the temple, that it ought to have been built on high ground and that the earth should have been excavated beneath it, so that it might have stood out more conspicuously on the Sacred Way from its higher position, and might also have accommodated the machines in its basement, so that they could be put together unobserved and brought into the amphitheater without anyone's being aware of them beforehand. Secondly, in regard to the statues, he said that they had been made too tall for the height of the cella.
"For now," he said, "if the goddesses wish to get up and go out, they will be unable to do so." When he wrote this so bluntly to Hadrian, the emperor was both vexed and exceedingly grieved because he had fallen into a mistake that could not be righted, and he restrained neither his anger nor his grief, but slew the man. Indeed, his nature was such that he was jealous not only of the living, but also of the dead; at any rate he abolished Homer and introduced in his stead Antimachus, whose very name had previously been unknown to many.

[Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.4; tr. Cary]  

Most scholars believe that it is not true that Hadrian ordered the assassination of the architect. Senators could be a serious threat, especially when they commanded an army, but there was no need to kill a mere architect. It must also be noted that Apollodorus' advise was accepted: the temple of Venus and Roma was in fact build on high ground, and still dominates the Sacred Way, and there is a basement that could be used to store machines for the amphitheater (= the Colosseum). There is, consequently, serious reason to doubt the anecdote about Hadrian murdering Apollodorus, and its origin may have been that the architect died - of natural causes - at the beginning of Hadrian's reign, when several senators were executed.
Other information from this anecdote has been generally accepted: that Apollodorus is the architect of the Forum of Trajan (one of the splendid Imperial Fora in Rome), the gymnasium (= baths?) of Trajan, and a hitherto unidentified Odeum.  

It is likely that Apollodorus started his career in the army, where he met Trajan, who took him to Rome, and asked him to build a bridge across the Danube. This monument is mentioned by Procopius:

The Roman Emperor Trajan, being of an impetuous and active temperament, seemed to be filled with resentment that his realm was not unlimited, but was bounded by the Danube. So he was eager to span it with a bridge that he might be able to cross it and that there might be no obstacle to his going against the barbarians beyond it. How he built this bridge I shall not be at pains to relate, but shall let Apollodorus of Damascus, who was the master-builder of the whole work, describe the operation. However, the Romans derived no profit from it subsequently, because later on the bridge was completely destroyed by the floods of the Danube and by the passage of time.
[Buildings, 4.6.11-14; tr. H.B. Dewing]

Scholars have tried to establish Apollodorus' own style and identify other buildings. For instance, it was assumed that the design of the Forum of Trajan, with its presumed sequence of sanctuary - libraries - basilica - square, resembled the principia (HQs) of an army camp: a military influence on Apollodorus' style. Unfortunately, the sanctuary was found on the opposite end of the forum. Attempts to recognize Apollodorus' hand in the Pantheon or buildings in Ostia have been equally unsuccessful.



Trajan's Bridge

Trajan's Bridge

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Trajan's Bridge
Serbian: Трајанов мост
Romanian: Podul lui Traian
An artist's interpretation of Trajan's Bridge depicted upon a light brown surface, with bridge stretching from near shore of river on the bottom left and the far shore in the top right.
Artistic reconstruction
LocaleEast of the Iron Gates, near the cities of Drobeta-Turnu Severin (Romania) and Kladovo (Serbia)
ArchitectApollodorus of Damascus
MaterialWood and Stone
Total length1,135 m (3,724 ft)
Width15 m (49 ft)
Height19 m (62 ft)
Number of spans20 masonry pillars
Construction begin103
Construction end105
Heritage statusMonuments of Culture of Exceptional Importance, and Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance, Serbia
CollapsedDestroyed by Aurelian, after the Roman Empire
CoordinatesCoordinates: 44°37′26″N 22°40′01″E / 44.623769°N 22.66705°E / 44.623769; 22.66705

Trajan's Bridge (Romanian: Podul lui Traian; Serbian: Трајанов мост, Trajanov Most) or Bridge of Apollodorus over the Danube was a Roman segmental arch bridge, the first to be built over the lower Danube. Though it lasted less than two hundred years before being destroyed, it remained the longest arch bridge ever built for more than a thousand years, in terms of both total and span length.[1] The bridge was constructed by the Greek architect Apollodorus of Damascus for the deployment of Roman troops in the war against Dacia, in 105 AD.



[edit] Description

Relief of the bridge on Trajan's Column showing the unusually flat segmental arches on high-rising concrete piers; in the foreground emperor Trajan sacrificing by the Danube

The bridge was situated East of the Iron Gates, near the cities of Drobeta-Turnu Severin (Romania) and Kladovo (Serbia). Its construction was ordered by Emperor Trajan as a supply route for the Roman legions fighting in Dacia.

The structure was 1,135 m (3,724 ft) in length (the Danube is 800 m (2,600 ft) wide in that area), 15 m (49 ft) in width, and 19 m (62 ft) in height (measured from the river's surface). At each end was a Roman castrum, each built around an entrance (crossing was possible only by walking through the camp).

Its engineer, Apollodorus of Damascus, used wooden arches set on twenty masonry pillars (made of bricks, mortar and pozzolana cement) that spanned 38 m (125 ft) each.[2] It was built unusually quickly (between 103 and 105)–one possible explanation is that the river was diverted during construction.

[edit] Tabula Traiana

Photo of Tabula Traiana near Kladovo, Serbia

A Roman memorial plaque ("Tabula Traiana"), 4 meters in width and 1.75 meters in height, commemorating the completion of Trajan's military road is located on the Serbian side facing Romania near Ogradina. In 1972, when Đerdap I was built, the plaque was moved from its original location, and moved higher, to the present place. It reads:

SVBLAT(i)S VIA(m) F(ecit)

The text was interpreted by Otto Benndorf to mean:

Emperor Caesar son of the divine Nerva, Nerva Trajan, the Augustus, Germanicus, Pontifex Maximus, invested for the fourth time as Tribune, Father of the Fatherland, Consul for the third time, excavating mountain rocks and using wood beams has made this road.

Tabula Traiana was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and is protected by Republic of Serbia.

[edit] Destruction/erosion and remains

The ruins at the beginning of the 20th Century, Romania

The bridge was destroyed by Aurelian, after the Roman Empire withdrew its troops from Dacia.[citation needed]

The twenty pillars were still visible in 1856, when the level of the Danube hit a record low.

In 1906, the International Commission of the Danube decided to destroy two of the pillars that were obstructing navigation.

In 1932, there were 16 remaining pillars underwater, but in 1982 only 12 were mapped by archeologists; the other four had probably been swept away by water. Only the entrance pillars are now visible on either bank of the Danube.[3]

In 1979, Trajan's Bridge was added to the Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance, and in 1983 on Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance list, and by that it is protected by Republic of Serbia.

[edit] See also

The remains of fortifications Drobeta on the left bank of the Danube (Romania), which was intended for defense of Trajan's bridge. On the right bank of the Danube (Serbia) are the remains of fortifications Pontes, who had the same purpose.

[edit] References

  1. ^ In terms of overall length, the bridge seems to have been surpassed by another Roman bridge across the Danube, Constantine's Bridge, a little-known structure whose length is given with 2437 m (Tudor 1974b, p. 139; Galliazzo 1994, p. 319).
  2. ^ Troyano, Leonardo Fernández, "Bridge Engineering - A Global Perspective", Thomas Telford Publishing, 2003
  3. ^ Romans Rise from the Waters

[edit] Further reading

  • Bancila, Radu; Teodorescu, Dragos (1998), "Die römischen Brücken am unteren Lauf der Donau", in Zilch, K.; Albrecht, G.; Swaczyna, A. et al., Entwurf, Bau und Unterhaltung von Brücken im Donauraum, 3. Internationale Donaubrückenkonferenz, 29–30 October, Regensburg, pp. 401–409
  • Galliazzo, Vittorio (1994), I ponti romani. Catalogo generale, Vol. 2, Treviso: Edizioni Canova, pp. 320–324 (No. 646), ISBN 88-85066-66-6
  • Griggs, Francis E. (2007), "Trajan's Bridge: The World's First Long-Span Wooden Bridge", Civil Engineering Practice 22 (1): 19–50, ISSN 0886-9685
  • Gušić, Sima (1996), "Traian's Bridge. A Contribution towards its Reconstruction", in Petrović, Petar, Roman Limes on the Middle and Lower Danube, Cahiers des Portes de Fer, 2, Belgrade, pp. 259–261
  • O’Connor, Colin (1993), Roman Bridges, Cambridge University Press, pp. 142–145 (No. T13), 171, ISBN 0-521-39326-4
  • Serban, Marko (2009), "Trajan’s Bridge over the Danube", The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 38 (2): 331–342, doi:10.1111/j.1095-9270.2008.00216.x
  • Tudor, D. (1974a), "Le pont de Trajan à Drobeta-Turnu Severin", Les ponts romains du Bas-Danube, Bibliotheca Historica Romaniae Études, 51, Bucharest: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, pp. 47–134
  • Tudor, D. (1974b), "Le pont de Constantin le Grand à Celei", Les ponts romains du Bas-Danube, Bibliotheca Historica Romaniae Études, 51, Bucharest: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, pp. 135–166
  • Ulrich, Roger B. (2007), Roman Woodworking, Yale University Press, pp. 104–107, ISBN 0-300-10341-7
  • Vučković, Dejan; Mihajlović, Dragan; Karović, Gordana (2007), "Trajan's Bridge on the Danube. The Current Results of Underwater Archaeological Research", Istros (14): 119–130

[edit] External links

For more information, visit the official site of Trajan's Bridge





Castrum Drobeta (now Turnu Severin-Romania) 

The Roman Fortress of Drobeta near Trajan's Bridge, secured the Roman domination and control of the Danube. It dates from the 2nd to the 5th Centuries, during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Trajan (or Traian), Constantine and Justinian. Traces of rooms, altars, baths and warehouses may still be observed.


 Maps of the Drobeta Roman Castrum or Fortress, from the 2nd to the 6th Centuries, built by the Romans on the left bank of the Danube River.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2006

Castrum Pontes (now Kostol, Serbia)


The remains of Trajan’s Bridge over the Danube and the Roman castrum of Pontes are situated near the village of Kostol, 5km downriver from Kladovo. The bridge, built between 103 AD and 105 AD, was the work of Syrian architect Apolodor of Damascus. On the right bank of the river, the Serbian side, there are remains of four columns, once connected by arches, while the span over the river itself was a latticed wooden construction resting on stone columns.

At the same time as the bridge, for the purposes of its defence, the military fortifications of Pontes on the right bank and Drobeta on the left bank of the Danube were built. Pontes, roughly square in shape, continued to serve to defend this part of the Limes right up to the 6th century. Besides the essential parts of the castrum – the walls, tower and gate – archaeological excavations have determined the plan and layout of structures within the walls and established that at the beginning of the 4th century, parallel with changes in the Roman army, a new model was applied to the interior of the Pontes.


National Museum, Belgrade
Đerdap Archaeological Museum
Trg kralja Petra bb, 19320 Kladovo
tel: +381 (0)19 803-900

Holograma podului lui Traian

Mehedinţi: Podul lui Apolodor din Damasc refăcut cu ajutorul unei holograme laser digitale


 Un tronson al celebrului Pod al lui Traian, construit peste Dunăre de Apolodor din Damasc, între localităţile Drobeta Turnu Severin şi Kostol (Serbia), între anii 103 şi 105 d. Ch., va fi refăcut cu ajutorul unei holograme laser digitale.

Coordonatorul proiectului, arheologul sârb Miomir Korac, a declarat luni, pentru AGERPRES, că podul va fi vizibil numai pe timpul nopţii datorită unei perdele de apă pulverizată de două pompe, lungă de 50 metri, care va fi realizată de o instalaţie specială de proiectare a unor imagini tridimensionale cu laser.

''Ideea de reconstrucţie a hologramei Podului lui Traian aparţine, din 2008, reprezentanţilor primăriilor din Drobeta Turnu Severin şi Kladovo (Serbia)'', a precizat Korac.

Valoarea proiectului respectiv se ridică la un milion de euro, sumă asigurată din surse europene prin promovarea unor programe destinate dezvoltării turismului. AGERPRES 




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