National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Rabun Taylor

Affiliation: University of Texas, Austin

Professor Rabun Taylor is with the Department of Classics at University of Texas‚ Austin. He received his Ph.D. in Classical Studies from the University of Minnesota, and has held the Ryskamp Fellowship of the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Sabbatical Fellowship of the American Philosophical Society. His specialization is in Roman art, architecture and urbanism, and the culture of ancient Italy. He has been an active member of the AIA, including holding various offices with the Boston Society.


For more than a decade, the Aqua Traiana project has been investigating the mysterious headwaters of the Aqua Traiana, the aqueduct introduced by the emperor Trajan to Rome in 109 CE.  At Vicarello, adjacent to a celebrated ancient thermal bathing complex, the team recently discovered a vaulted gallery and its various intake and offtake branches preserved in a restoration of the 17th century and subsequently abandoned.  As we pieced together its relationship to other monumentalized sources we had discovered in the system, it became evident that Vicarello may have been the birthplace of the Aqua Traiana. Trajan’s imperial predecessor, Domitian, owned a villa there.  As he became aware of the abundance of springs in the region, he seems to have acquired the property surrounding them and laid plans for what would become the Baths of Trajan in Rome.  This talk reviews the project’s main discoveries and traces the hypothetical stages through which Domitian’s vision for a small local aqueduct expanded into a grand urban project, eventually to be appropriated and largely implemented by Trajan.


See Rabun Taylor's work in the American Journal of Archaeology.

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