Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus is a 1st-century honorific arch located on the Via Sacra.
The Arch of Titus is arranged in five bays with an ABA rhythm, the side bays perpendicular to the central axial arch . The corners are articulated with a massive order of engaged columns that stand on a high ashlar basement.
The capitals are Corinthian, but with prominent volutes of the Ionic order projecting laterally above the acanthus foliage—the earliest example of the composite order. Above the main cornice rises a high weighty attic on which is a central tablet bearing the dedicatory inscription. The entablatures break forward over the columns and the wide central arch, and the profile of the column shafts transforms to square. Flanking the central arch, the side bays now each contain a shallow niche-like blind aedicular window, a discreet early 19th century restoration.
The soffit of the axial archway is deeply coffered with a relief of the apotheosis of Titus at the center. The sculptural program also includes two panel reliefs lining the passageway. Both commemorate the joint triumph celebrated by Titus and his father Vespasian in the summer of 71. One of the panels depicts the spoils taken from the Temple, while the other depicts Titus as triumphator attended by various genii and lictors. The sculpture of the outer faces of the two great piers was lost when the Arch of Titus was incorporated in medieval defensive walls. The attic of the arch was originally crowned by more statuary, perhaps of a quadriga pulled by elephants.
Based on the style of sculptural details, Domitian's favored architect Rabirius, sometimes credited with the Colosseum, may have executed the arch. Without contemporary documentation, however, attributions of Roman buildings on basis of style are considered shaky.
The Arch of Titus was constructed of Pentelic marble, and is 13.50 metres wide, 15.40 high, and 4.75 deep. The main inscription used to be ornamented by letters made of silver or pehaps gold or some other metal.
The Arch of Titus provides the only contemporary depiction of sacred articles from the Temple in Jerusalem. The menorah and trumpets are clearly depicted, as well as what might be the Table of Showbread.
Due to the depiction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the desecration of the Temple, Jews refuse to walk underneath the arch to this very day. A notable exception occurred in 1948 at the founding of Israel, when a large contingent from the Roman Jewish community walked through the arch in the opposite direction from the original Ancient Roman triumphal march.