The Temple of Augustus and Rome was built between 25 and 20 B.C. following the Roman conquest of central Anatolia and the designation of Ancyra, modern-day Ankara, as the new capital of Galatia. Following the death of Augustus in A.D. 14, the Deeds of the Divine Augustus were inscribed in Latin along the interior walls of the inner portico and in Greek on the columns of an exterior wall on the temple’s inner chamber. While various inscriptions of this work have been found scattered throughout the former Roman Empire, the text at Ankara is the most complete version. The temple was converted into a church in the fifth century. In the fifteenth century it became a madrassa, or an Islamic religious school, and mosque for the Bayrami Sufi sect.
Monument becomes site of innovative materials conservation research
Seismic activity and air pollution have long been responsible for the deterioration of the temple’s stone, including the surfaces containing the Greek and Latin inscriptions. The building was included on the World Monuments Watch in 2002 and 2004 in order to help prevent further damage to its historic fabric. Between 2006 and 2008 funds from the Robert W. Wilson Challenge supported the assessment of stone and marble surface conditions in the building, undertaken by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s General Directorate of Monuments and Museums and the materials conservation division of Middle East Technical University. In 2007 the Kress Foundation’s European Preservation Program funded a round table at the site, which provided experts with the opportunity to discuss the advancements in the control of stone deterioration that were developed at the monument.
In the same year, the Monuments Council for the Temple of Augustus was founded within the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to help protect the building, and in 2008 the Metropolitan Municipality of Ankara produced documentation of the site including measured drawings. In February 2016 the Ministry announced their intention to restore the monument completely.
The Temple of Augustus and Rome is an important vestige of Emperor Augustus’ significance to the Roman Empire. Conservation of the structure will ensure that this enduring testament of Rome’s presence in Anatolia will remain for future generations.