Virtual Meridian of Augustus

With generous support from the National Science Foundation (grant # IIS-1014956), we have recently been developing a digital simulation of the northern Campus Martius in the period 9 BCE to 40 CE. Our motivation is to create a tool that makes it possible instantly to see the correct positions of the sun and its shadow at any time of day in this period of time so that the various controversies associated with the work of Edmund Buchner on the so-called “Horologium Augusti” can be approached in a new way. We have two main goals in creating the simulation. First, we want to see if Buchner’s and other scholars’ claims and interpretations about the relationship of the Augustan obelisk, the (hypothesized) horologium (which we now call the Meridian of Augustus, following the lead of Albèri Auber 2011-12), and the Ara Pacis can be verified or refuted. Secondly, we want to use the simulation as a support for an empirical survey all over the area of interest to see if it might even be possible, by broadening the field of inquiry in terms of time and space, to arrive at any new insights and discoveries. We are grateful for the opportunity to report on our findings here, and we begin by noting that these are preliminary and can be expected to be revised as our simulation is subjected to further testing and refinement.