Washington, March 15 : Experts have digitally reconstructed the earliest temple of ancient Rome - the Temple of Apollo, built by the first Roman emperor, Augustus.
The Temple of Apollo was Augustus' first temple project and may have played a role in the emperor's effort to secure his power.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the temple dates to 28 B.C., and its ruins stand adjacent to the emperor's imperial palaces on the city's famous Palatine Hill.
Until now, the original design of the temple had not been well understood, partly due to the ruins' poor state of preservation.
Also, previous efforts to model the temple had been based on outdated historical assessments rather than on the ruins themselves.
Now, Stephan Zink, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studied the site and its archaeological remains to produce new measurements and other data to accurately recreate the temple.
Zink conducted summer fieldwork at Palatine Hill from 2005 through 2007. He studied the temple's surviving foundation and marble fragments found scattered around the site.
Combining his field data with previous research from the 1950s and 1960s, Zink was able to restore most of the temple's key measurements and bring the site back to life in a digital reconstruction.
"When looking at the site today, it is hard to imagine that there once stood a temple that was as high as an apartment house with ten stories," said Zink.
Zink's new observations reestablished the original position of each column and put the surviving marble fragments back in place.
The reconstruction also took into account the known design plans of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, a famous Roman engineer and architect during the time of Augustus.
The building's facade, according to the new model, shows a structure rooted in local Italic traditions with features similar to those of famous Greek and Hellenistic temples.
"Only due to the fact that the temple is now visible again, a comprehensive assessment of its design is possible," said Zink.
According to Birte Poulsen, an archaeologist at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, "The Temple of Apollo is one of the most important constructions from the time of Augustus. A more profound knowledge of the Temple of Apollo will increase our understanding of the Augustan architecture in general, and in particular Augustan Rome."