Despite its name, the Arcus Argentariorum is a architraved gate erected in 204 AD on the ancient urban road of the vicus Jugarium, where the street entered the Forum Boarium (now Piazza Bocca della Verità), and commissioned by the local money-changers (argentarii) and cattle dealers (negotiantes). It was dedicated to the emperor Septimius Severus and his family, which included Caracalla, Geta, Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus, and Fulvia Plautilla, wife of Caracalla. The names of Plautilla and Geta were then deleted from the inscriptions, after Caracalla seized sole power and assassinated them.
The gate leans on the church of San Giorgio al Velabro: in the 7th century its eastern pillar was in fact partly incorporated into the church’s masonry. It is built of white marble, except for the base which is of travertine. The decorations cover all available surfaces, with the exception of the northern façade, outside the square of the Forum Boarium: acanthus scrolls and military banners on the pillars, Victories and eagles on the capitals, sacrificial scenes, soldiers and barbarian prisoners. The panels show depictions of Septimius Severus, Julia Domna and Caracalla, while the erased figures had represented Geta and Plautilla, cancelled following the damnatio memoriae. The dedicatory inscription is framed by two bas-reliefs representing Hercules and a genius.
Currently, the travertine bases that support the pillars are buried one meter below the road surface. In the Middle Ages, treasure-hunters thought that there was a treasure hidden inside the arch. They drilled many holes in it, which are still visible.
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