Side opposite Augustus
original north side

16th and 17th C. Drawings of Slabs
from the Processional Frieze

Beginning in the late 16th century, drawings were made recording these figural reliefs on blocks of marble that had recently been discovered. We now recognize that these drawings represent sections of the processional reliefs originally on the north and south sides of the Ara Pacis Augustae. However, there are no known ancient images of these reliefs and, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the original location of the Ara Pacis has been totally forgotten. Thus, even though these blocks were discovered near the original location of the monument, no one associated these reliefs with the Ara Pacis.

Nevertheless, the quality and importance of the reliefs was recognized and these drawings were done partly to document these impressive new discoveries. The drawings made in the 16th and 17th centuries usually agree closely in their imagery. Although they do not have the usual characteristics of documentary drawings, the Codex Vaticanus drawings have the fewest changes and most accurately record the reliefs as rediscovered (Codex Ursinianus by Ligorio and Panvinius; Vatican Library, Rome, Codex 3439.) As such, they are invaluable in helping us distinguish original carving from later additions and other changes.

In the drawings of slabs reproduced on this thumbnail page, we can note that 3 important heads in the 17th c. drawings are blank in the 16th c. drawings. This indicates that these new heads were either added in the drawings or, more likely, had already been added to the reliefs themselves before the 17th century drawings.

Drawings of reliefs from the original north side are illustrated on this page. Drawings of reliefs from the original south side with Augustus are illustrated in that section of this website.