Trajan’s Column: The 3 Reasons It Is Important To Roman History

Further ReadingEmperor Trajan: 3 Reasons He Was A Successful Leader

Completed in 113 AD Trajan’s Column remains one of the most fascinating structures from the Roman Empire. The importance of the Column itself comes from the relief which spirals around the outside up towards the top. Trajan’s Column stands at an astounding 115 Ft. tall making it one of the tallest structures from the Roman Empire.

Today there are 3 reasons why Trajan’s Column is important to Roman History. First, the spiral inscription on the outside was designed to highlight Trajan’s conquests in the Dacian Wars. Second, the relief itself provides valuable historical evidence for how the Roman people viewed the Roman army. Third, the column itself demonstrates the type of imperial propaganda which existed during the reign of Trajan.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If at the end of this article you enjoyed the content then feel free to subscribe to the free newsletter and share around the web.

Without further ado, here are the 3 reasons Trajan’s Column is important to Roman history.

The Spiral Inscription On The Outside Was Designed To Highlight Trajan’s Conquests In The Dacian Wars

One of the main reasons why Trajan’s Column is important to the study of Roman history is because it depicts Trajan’s conquests during the Dacian wars.

Emperor Trajan believed that the greatest accomplishment of his life was his win against the Dacians of northern Greece. Over a series of two wars the Roman military under Trajan would deliver a crushing blow to Dacia and annex their territory.

This territory was rich in gold reserves which resulted in the Imperial treasury of Rome expanding in total value. Historians have estimated that these wars with Dacia resulted in the Roman economy gaining around 700 million Denarii per year from the gold mines in Dacia.

To Trajan this was a massive success. He had led the Roman state to massive riches and glory. He wanted to detail this accomplishment on his column. However, the reason that is important to the study of Roman history is because it offers a biased view of how the Roman general Trajan wanted to display his victory.

The relief’s on the Column present Trajan as a hero of the Roman Empire who was acting in the best interest of the state. The Roman citizen’s on the ground would first encounter the inscription which states that the column itself was given by the Roman people to Trajan in his honor.

After this inscription the reliefs would spiral up to display how the war in Dacia progressed. To historians this is vital as it demonstrates information on how the battles progressed and the actions taken to secure a successful military campaign.

As such one of the main reasons why Trajan’s Column is important to Roman history is because it offers a rare primary source for the Dacian wars undertaken by Trajan.

The Relief Itself Provides Valuable Primary Source Evidence For How The Romans Viewed The Army

One of the main reasons that Trajan’s Columns is important to history is because it offers historians a valuable primary source of evidence of how the Roman population viewed Trajan’s army.

Over the past two decades historians have begun to look at the Dacian wars through a different light. We have uncovered different pieces of evidence that appears to indicate that the Roman people felt disconnected from the Roman military.

This disconnect might have been for several reasons. Unlike previous monuments which glorified the Roman military or a commander’s actions, Trajan’s column depicts the military performing orderly daily actions which would have resonated among the civilian population of Rome.

While the column does depict battle engagements it primarily demonstrates the daily life of a soldier. This is unique as most monuments under the Julio-Claudian and Flavian dynasties would glorify the Emperor.

By the time of Trajan there appears to have been a disconnect between the Emperor and the people of Rome. Historians are still researching this and any prospective history graduate students will find substantial research opportunities to study the social shift under Trajan between the army and the civilian population of Rome.

However, one of the main reasons why Trajan’s Column is important to Roman history is because it provides valuable primary source evidence for how the Romans in the city of Rome viewed the Roman army.

The Column Itself Demonstrates The Type Of Imperial Propaganda Which Existed During The Reign Of Trajan

The 3rd reason why Trajan’s Column is important to Roman history is because it highlights the type of imperial propaganda which existed during the reign of Trajan.

Trajan’s column was built in the center of a complex that the entire population of Rome would use. This was called the Trajan forum and it was built with conquests of Trajan during the Dacian wars.

On both sides of Trajan’s column there existed a wrap-around library called the Ulpian Library. This library would have housed several scrolls and books which served to bolster the Imperial regime.

On the upper levels of this library there were viewing decks to see the inscriptions on the column itself. This would have greatly influenced the people of Rome into believing that Trajan was a good emperor worthy of deification and praise.

However, it is this column itself along with its positioning within the forum which marks its importance to Roman history. Today historians have worked on recreating the Imperial forum to demonstrate how each piece of architecture served a purpose.

For Trajan’s Column the purpose was to both glorify Trajan as well as solidify his Imperial dynasty through propaganda.

As such one of the main reasons that Trajan’s Column is important to Roman history is because the column itself along with the buildings in its direct vicinity can be used as a primary source for historians.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article on the 3 reasons Trajan’s Column is important to Roman History

The use of spatial theory as a way to research historical architecture is a fascinating subject. Over the past 20 years historians have started to use several methodologies to uncover even more knowledge of Roman history.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.

Further, you can check out some of the other articles below.

Sincerely,

Nick