Vetusta Monumenta: Ancient Monuments, a Digital Edition

Features of this Edition

This digital edition of Vetusta Monumenta (Ancient Monuments) is built on the Scalar platform. The digital images, in both dzi and jpg format, are based on 400 and 600 ppi tiff files produced on the Digibook 9000 and Indus scanners owned by Ellis Library at the University of Missouri, which holds one of only six complete sets of Vetusta Monumenta in the US (and of eleven worldwide, according to the Worldcat database). Volume I is complete as of June 2019, with Volume II to follow in 2021 and Volume III in 2022. Readers wishing to consult our scans of the remaining volumes (with no commentary or editorial matter) may find them in the Hathi Trust Digital Library as well as at the University of Missouri Digital Library.

Pages in the Edition

Our Table of Contents, found in the site's upper-left main menu or by clicking the "Enter the Edition" link on our home page, provides links to individual content pages in the edition and also includes links to three more substantial pages of reference material: our Introduction, Thematic Essays on the kinds of monuments depicted in Vetusta Monumenta, and a Biographical Register. The Table of Contents page displays thumbnail images of the individual plates in groups of twenty-five. There are smaller sets of thumbnails depicting the front matter of Volume I (the original printed title page and table of contents) and the first few plates of Volume II. More Volume II plates will be added on a rolling basis throughout 2019-2020. Each thumbnail image links the user to a Commentary page.

From the home page and also the upper-left main menu, readers may also follow links to other, basic informational pages like those on many web sites: About, Credits, and the Features page.

Commentary Pages

Commentary pages are the centerpiece of this edition. Each thumbnail image in our Table of Contents links to a commentary page that displays two larger versions of the image on the right and a menu with explanatory text on the left. The menu is an accordion menu with at least five items: Plate, Object, Transcription, Translation, Commentary, and Works Cited. Where applicable, one or both of these additional menu items are also displayed: Original Explanatory Account and Further Reading. Each menu item is clickable; click to expand; click again to contract. When you first land on a commentary page, the last menu item, Commentary, will open by default.

DZI Image (top right): click on + to zoom in, -to zoom out, and on the last button to make the image full screen. If the plate is part of a set, use the scroll arrows to scroll through all the images in the set.

JPEG image with Caption: This image may be viewed while reading the commentary. The caption underneath the image provides essential information about the creators of the image (both the engraving and the drawing on which it is based) and about the object(s) depicted. If the plate is part of a set, use the scroll arrows to scroll through all the images in the set.

Plate: This menu item links to a concise description of what appears on the plate and how it was made.

Object: This menu item links to a concise description of the original object—artifact, monument, document, or other antiquity—that the engraving depicts, including its original date and context, provenance, and location (if still extant).

Transcription: This menu item links to a transcription of all the text engraved on the plate.

Translation: There is Latin text (and occasionally Greek or other non-English text) engraved on many of the plates. These translations are supplied either by the commentary authors or by affiliated classical scholars.

Commentary: These are peer-reviewed scholarly articles ranging in length from 2,000 to 8,000 words, depending on the number of plates being discussed as well as the number of objects per plate, among other factors. Thirty-four of the plates in Volume I were published individually and are the sole subjects of their respective commentaries. Thirty-six were published as plate sets; in these cases, there is one commentary (typically longer) for the whole plate set. These eleven plate sets range in size from two plates to six plates. (Volume II contains several sets, including a seven-plate set.) Therefore, each thumbnail image from a given plate set links to the same commentary page; in these cases, all the dzi and jpg images are displayed as slide shows in one image field. The commentary presents a detailed account of the creation of the plate and its reception as well as a history of the objects depicted on the plate, their original context, their historiography, and their reception in the eighteenth century.

Works Cited: The bibliography lists all the primary and secondary works cited in the commentary. Author-date citation style (CMS) is used throughout.

Original Explanatory Accounts: Beginning in 1744, the Society of Antiquaries included printed explanations with some of the engravings. Early attempts to use the copper plate itself to accommodate explanatory text suggested the need for printed companion essays. In Volume I, these appear with Plates 1.66-1.68 and Plate 1.70. We provide high-quality jpegs of these printed pages without any editorial matter, except for the essays in Latin. Translations are provided with these next to the page images. Volume II includes many more of these companion essays, and beginning with Plate 2.20, every single engraving for the rest of the series included a printed text. These accounts are invaluable documents of the state of antiquarian knowledge at the time a given print was created and often provide clues toward an explanation of why the print was made.

Further Reading: Our commentary authors provide titles of additional works suitable for readers wishing to familiarize themselves with the general or specific subject of the commentary.

Searching the Edition

The search box can be found in the top header bar (spyglass icon), which will allow you to search for any page or media in the edition by title and description. To extend your search beyond title and description, after running a search, in the search results popup box you change the parameter "title & description (fast)" to "all fields & metadata (slow)" and then re-run the search. The latter, extended search is useful for finding media based on particular metadata fields. Note that one of the key features in the platform is that "everything is a page," meaning, text pages, media, annotations, and other concepts will all "show up" in search results as pages themselves. While this feature facilitates complex relationships to be created in the platform, it can cause some confusion the first few times you search for content as all content, regardless of type, will be presented in the search results list. To narrow the scope of the many pages in the edition, you can follow the "Index" link in the main menu found at the top-left of the header bar; the index presents the same content in lists organized by type.

The Scalar Platform

Scalar, a widely-used platform for long-form and media-rich scholarly publishing, was first developed by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture and the University of Southern California in 2011. Even now, years after its initial release, the software is continuously developed, led by co-creators Craig Dietrich and Erik Loyer.  For this project, Dietrich worked directly with the editorial team to implement new features, such as the custom "accordion" on the Commentary pages, and consulted on site design and structure.

Peer Review

Commentaries submitted for this edition are peer-reviewed (blind) on a rolling basis by the referees recommended by our international Advisory Board. For more details, send email to

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