A detail from Rodolfo Lanciani’s 1901 map of Rome showing the area around the Colosseum.
This Enormous 100-Year-Old Map of Rome is Still the City's Best
The document is almost as tall as a two-story building. Here's how a 19th century archaeologist made the best map of the most mapped city in history.
A 1901 map of Rome is arguably the best map ever made of the most mapped city in human history. The map, created by archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani, documents the city in meticulous detail from its ancient past through the end of the 19th century.
The map is huge. Fully assembled, it’s roughly 17 feet by 24 feet. Lanciani published it as 46 separate sheets over the course of eight years.
Lanciani’s map is color coded, so that the ancient and medieval parts of the city are depicted in black, early modern parts are red, and modern parts are blue (from Lanciani’s perspective, modern meant anything after about 1871, when Rome became the capital of a newly unified Italy).
“It’s one of