The terraces cut out of the Quirinal hillsides to accommodate the Forum of Trajan were shored up by a complex of brick buildings called the Trajan’s Market (In italian Mercati di Traiano).
Their facade was a great exedra with a semi-circular chamber at either end, perhaps used as schoolrooms or lecture theatres. There is reliable evidence that at least in late imperial times the forum was used for courses of higher studies with access to the two libraries nearby.
The middle of the complex housed shops (tabernae): eleven on the ground floor and ten on the first floor, facing onto a passageway. The shops on the second floor, however, faced in the opposite direction and opened onto a street running behind the Markets, the Via Biberatica. The name, recorded only in the Middle Ages, was derived from the Latin noun biber (drink) and probably indicates that some of the shops were taverns and sold refreshments.
The Markets of Trajan were also occupied by retailers, but their principal use must have been as wholesale warehouses dealing in provisions and run by the state. They thus formed the last link in a chain of distribution that also included Trajan’s important new port at Fiumicino.
Markets of Trajan – Photo Gallery:
Tickets & Tours for Your Trip: