Daily Archives: December 29, 2021

The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps: Jessica Maier

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One of the most visited places in the world, Rome attracts millions of tourists each year to walk its storied streets and see famous sites like the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Trevi Fountain. Yet this ancient city’s allure is due as much to its rich, unbroken history as to its extraordinary array of landmarks. Countless incarnations and eras merge in the Roman cityscape. With a history spanning nearly three millennia, no other place can quite match the resilience and reinventions of the aptly nicknamed Eternal City.

In this unique and visually engaging book, Jessica Maier considers Rome through the eyes of mapmakers and artists who have managed to capture something of its essence over the centuries. Viewing the city as not one but ten “Romes,” she explores how the varying maps and art reflect each era’s key themes. Ranging from modest to magnificent, the images comprise singular aesthetic monuments like paintings and grand prints as well as more popular and practical items like mass-produced tourist plans, archaeological surveys, and digitizations. The most iconic and important images of the city appear alongside relatively obscure, unassuming items that have just as much to teach us about Rome’s past. Through 140 full-color images and thoughtful overviews of each era, Maier provides an accessible, comprehensive look at Rome’s many overlapping layers of history in this landmark volume.

The first English-language book to tell Rome’s rich story through its maps, The Eternal City beautifully captures the past, present, and future of one of the most famous and enduring places on the planet.


The Ruins Lesson makes one point above all: there was no single dominant way of observing ancient ruins and portraying what remained. Jessica Maier’s The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps provides a rich complementary account. . . . For centuries, as she shows, mapmakers and miniaturists, antiquarians and cartographers set out to do exactly what he thought impossible: to represent at least in part not only the city of Rome, but some of the ways in which it had changed over time.”
London Review of Books

“No other city has maintained the story of its past in its present quite like Rome, creating an intentional palimpsest through incessant acts of preservation, reconstruction, and cartographic visualization. Maier’s lively, imaginatively organized, and accessible book displays how centuries of maps not only tell stories about the city’s physical development but also show how Rome’s narratives of itself—conflating eras, resituating buildings, compressing waterways—unfurled in self-mapping from antiquity to the Metro.”
Evelyn Lincoln, Brown University

“Jessica Maier’s The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps is a luxurious volume, elegantly and enthusiastically written, and richly illustrated with 140 well-curated color images of artwork, including maps of Rome across the ages. Maier’s primary aim is to explore the history of Rome through its cartography, and she contextualizes the maps within their historical, socio-cultural, religious, and political backdrops. . . . her volume invites the reader on an imaginary journey through the complex topographical, monumental, and historical layers of the Eternal City.”
The Portolan

“The history of Rome comes to life in this erudite, beautifully written book. Organized chronologically from Rome’s early beginnings to the present, this richly detailed history of Rome is focused through the lens of maps and cartographic images. Maier has written a fascinating account for both armchair and actual travelers. The Eternal City also has much to offer to seasoned scholars who will appreciate its coherent and fluid synthesis.”
Pamela O. Long, author of Engineering the Eternal City

The Eternal City offers the reader a vivid panorama of Rome’s changing form and image over the course of more than two millennia. A rich selection of city plans and views reveals crucial shifts in representational strategies, function, and symbolic intent. The dynamic tension between Rome’s complex, three-dimensional urban reality and the city’s image as projected by successive generations of artists and cartographers is certain to engage a wide audience.”
John Pinto, emeritus, Princeton University

“The Eternal City is a brilliant history of Rome, focusing on how we have responded to and represented this ever-changing city. Digging down into both Rome’s history and our own desires for this city, Maier has written a fascinating book that has changed the way I consider maps and history.”
A Universe in Words blog

About the Author

Jessica Maier is associate professor of art history at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of Rome Measured and Imagined: Early Modern Maps of the Eternal City, also published by University of Chicago Press

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ University of Chicago Press; First edition (November 4, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 022659145X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0226591452
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.5 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 8.5 x 0.9 x 11 inches

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Nov 1, 2020

Tom Lovejoy’s legacy to the Earth

Tom Lovejoy, in his mild-mannered way, embodied the force of Nature he studied and defended. His passing is a personal loss for his many friends and colleagues, and leaves a void in conservation biology, a field he helped develop.

Tom was an innovator and integrator of multiple concepts to serve the protection and restoration of the natural world. In 1980, he introduced the term, biological diversity—later shortened to biodiversity—to describe the richness and variety of species locally within a specific ecosystem or globally. In 1992, the concept was codified in an international treaty, The Convention on Biological Diversity.

Tom demonstrated that intact, biodiverse forests were the most productive and resilient, and therefore were effective means for slowing climate change by accumulating large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. While he worked in the tropical forests of Amazonia, he recognized the principles he discovered were applicable to forests of all types. This realization drove him to propose means for protecting large tracts of intact forests by working locally with people and internationally through Debt for Nature Swaps that “paid” deeply indebted poorer countries to keep forests intact by forgiving their international debts.

Shortly after completing his Ph.D. study of tropical forest birds at the mouth of the Amazon River, Lovejoy joined a new, small NGO, World Wildlife Fund, as the program officer. He found support for the innovative species protection programs he devised from WWF board member George Woodwell, and the fledgling organization grew rapidly. That relationship deepened after the Woodwell Climate Research Center was founded as the Woods Hole Research Center in 1985. Tom became an early director and was the longest serving board member until he stepped down in 2021. His own work in the Amazon clearly influenced the Center’s continuing research on the consequences of Amazon forest loss on biodiversity and climate change. In recognition of his unique contributions and service to the Center and to conservation science, he was awarded the title and role of Distinguished Ambassador.

Tom served in many capacities and was an influential adviser to many organizations and political leaders. He founded the highly productive Amazon Biodiversity Center and initiated the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragmentation Project that is “the world’s largest and longest running study of habitat fragmentation.” This site is where Tom conducted his own research, and where he often retreated. He won many environmental prizes for his conservation work including the Tyler Prize and the Blue Planet Prize, and the greater scientific community recognized his profound contributions in 2021 when he was elected into the National Academy of Sciences.

Tom Lovejoy’s death on Christmas morning sent a wave of grief over the many whom he mentored, befriended, and with whom he collaborated. He leaves an extraordinary legacy upon which those of us who study and care for this remarkable living planet can build a more sustainable future.

Max Holmes
Acting President and Executive Director

George Woodwell

Board of Directors
Woodwell Climate Research Center