The So Called Neo-Pythagorean Basilica of Porta Maggiore in Rome: The Most Mysterious Roman Monument

  • V. F. PolcaroEmail author
  • S. Sclavi
  • S. Gaudenzi
  • L. Labianca
  • M. Ranieri
Part of the Historical & Cultural Astronomy book series (HCA)


The underground Basilica of Porta Maggiore, accidentally discovered in 1917, is not mentioned in any classical source. All the authors who have studied the monument agree on dating it to the first half of the first century AD, independently from the assumptions made on its intended use. The Basilica is in a good state of conservation, and preserves most of its original decoration. After discussing briefly the main features of the monument, we shall examine it from an archaeoastronomical point of view, noting a very interesting feature: that at summer solstice sunset an optical path illuminates one of the scenes decorating the Basilica vault. The centrality of this hierophany will hopefully help to disentangle the many mysteries of this monument.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. F. Polcaro
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • S. Sclavi
    • 6
  • S. Gaudenzi
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
  • L. Labianca
    • 7
  • M. Ranieri
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.INAF, Istituto Nazionale di AstrofisicaRomeItaly
  2. 2.IAPS, Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia SpazialiRomeItaly
  3. 3.Astronomy and Cultural Heritage ACHe CenterFerraraItaly
  4. 4.Università degli Studi di FerraraFerraraItaly
  5. 5.Associazione Culturale C.E.S.A.R., Center of Excellence Studies and Archaeological ResearchRomeItaly
  6. 6.Università di Roma “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  7. 7.Soprintendenza Archeologica di RomaRomeItaly

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