Ephesus, the Maison Carrée, the Forum: an attractive app (though still in need of some work) that explores 350 important archaeological sites of the ancient Roman world.
There’s a pleasure in ruins, said the English writer Rose Macaulay, who knew a thing or two about poking around in piles of rubble to reconstruct wondrous stories of the past. In just the same way, there’s a pleasure in this app, which approaches its inexhaustible subject just right: Supply handsome photographs and links, hit the most important historical points, and throw in a little touristy info for visitors. Thus, for instance, the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina of Rome, “where,” as the app has it, “Caesar met his end.” Historical opinion is divided on that matter, but the place, not far from the Forum, is incontestably important as the site of four ancient temples—and well-known to visitors to Rome as the hangout of a small army of stray cats, a fact that, happily, doesn’t escape the authors’ attention. Now, “Area Sacra” isn’t the most intuitive way for English speakers to search for the site (referred to in most guidebooks simply as the Largo Argentina), but the rest of the app is more straightforward, offering A-to-Z presentation (from the Acqua Marcia, a first-century aqueduct, to Zeugma, a Greek city in Asia Minor subsequently conquered by Rome—and, as the text notes, now closed to visitors but under excavation). Web links take readers to the Historvius.com site, which offers further information and additional photographs about the places covered in the app, as well as pointers to nearby hotels and relevant tour services. The app includes plenty of sites, some well-known, some obscure, and in numerous ways—in collections devoted to, say, theaters or villas, as parts of galleries or as stand-alone entries. Readers might wish for more informative captioning, and though the main text is sound, it could stand to run a bit longer for most entries. Otherwise, the few technical drawbacks are easily remedied: For instance, there’s no transparently easy way to search or to bookmark.
Altogether, an inviting start and worth a place on the iPads of classics buffs and armchair (and actual) travelers to the ancient Roman world.