A City Built On Waste

Atop Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills on which Ancient Rome began, lies a mountain of pottery shards, known as its Latin translation, Mons Testaceus. The mass of pottery was produced during the Roman Age by the unloading of ceramic containers – known as amphora – that arrived at the nearby Emporium port along the Tiber River. The broken pottery shards, transported off of ships by ramp, were set down as garbage and stacked up for centuries. The artificial hill now stands 36 meters tall. Today, the hill top is a park where vegetation grows directly over the hints of amphora fragments along the pedestrian path. The mountain of shards truly served as a landfill of the Roman Age, the practice beginning around the Augustan Age (1st century B.C. – 1st century A.D.) and continuing until the middle of the 3rd century A.D..

This precedent of maltreatment to the city itself still continues today. Rome is constantly trashed and dirtied, with rubbish everywhere, potholes lining the streets, and disorganized traffic. Rome has become a city without a soul, one that doesn’t invest in the suburbs or the people – a place in which racism, sexism, and violence thrive. The people of Rome are tired of hearing Mayor Virginia Raggi say that everything will be alright. Rome says, “enough.”

This is the image of a city in decline that must learn to create a different and better world for its future generations.

Digging into the city’s grounds, future archaeologists will have ancient ceramic and more modern plastic to comprise their stratigraphy. Rome’s history will be measured through accumulated waste that has destroyed a city over thousands of years, thanks to consumerism and complacency.

Chiara Martina Papa





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