The name and date of the little round temple in the Forum Boarium at Rome (popularly known as the ‘Temple of Vesta’) are long-standing problems of Roman topography. Its identification is still quite uncertain. On the chronology, however, general opinion seems to have hardened and, for reasons which are discussed below, most scholars appear now to believe that the building is Augustan, rejecting the attractive theory of Altmann and Delbrueck that it was erected some time in the later second century B.C. The present article is not concerned at all with the problem of identification, nor does it attempt the full and detailed study of the design and construction without which a definitive solution of the problem of dating is clearly impossible. Its purpose is twofold: to draw attention to some significant features of the architectural design and decoration, and to illustrate and discuss some surviving fragments which can be shown to belong to the lost entablture, but which seem hitherto to have escaped attention.
The foundations of the temple were first exposed by Valadier in the early nineteenth century, in the course of restoration work undertaken to free the building of later accretions and to consolidate the ancient remains.