Ancient Rome’s Failed Building Projects

Alongside the great successes of Roman architectural feats were expensive failures. Who was to blame? 

Relief showing the construction of a building using a crane, from the tomb of the Haterii, Rome, first century AD. Universal Art Archive/Alamy Stock Photo.

Troubled construction projects are perennially in the news. When looking for historical parallels of grand and wasteful infrastructure schemes, journalists and political commentators often reach for absurdities and failures that were occasionally undertaken by 20th-century communist regimes. But go back further and we see that even those ancient civilisations commonly renowned for their ability in construction also funded ill-thought-out and unrealised building projects.

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