The Servian Wall is named after the sixth Roman King, Servius Tullius, who built this defensive barrier around the city of Rome in the early 4th century BC. Although its outline may go back to the 6th century BC, the currently extant walls were probably built during the later Roman Republic, possibly as a defensive reaction against the Sack of Rome by the Gauls (390 BC). The wall was built from large blocks of tufa quarried from the Grotta Oscura quarry near Rome's early rival Veii. The wall was 3.6 m thick, 11 km long, and had more than a dozen gates. In addition to the blocks, some sections of the structure incorporated a deep fossa, or ditch in front of it, as a means to effectively heighten the wall during attack from invaders. Along part of its topographically weaker northern perimeter was an agger, a defensive ramp of earth heaped up to the wall along the inside. This thickened the wall, and also gave defenders a base to stand while repelling any attack. The wall was also outfitted with defensive war engines, including catapults.
The wall was still maintained in the end of the Republic and the early Empire. The walls became unnecessary as Rome became well protected by the ever expanding military strength of the Republic and of the later Empire. As the city continued to grow and prosper, it was essentially unwalled for the first three centuries of the Empire. However, when the city came under attack from barbarian tribes in the 3rd century, Emperor Aurelian was forced to build the larger Aurelian Walls to protect Rome.
Sections of the Servian Wall are still visible in various locations around Rome. The largest section is preserved just outside Termini Station, the main railway station in Rome. Another notable section on the Aventine incorporates an arch for a defensive catapult from the late Republic. Other sections of the wall can be seen in the Auditorium of Mecenate and on Largo Magnanapoli. Inside Palazzo Antonelli is visible another section of the wall with a catapult arch. Other ruins are on Via Salandra and Via Carducci.
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