Trajan’s Column: Ancient Roman relief Sculpture (Work in Progress)

Trajan’s Column, in Rome, Italy, that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars.

One of the great things about teaching art is being able to use other content areas for inspiration. Not only do students learn about various functions of art (storytelling, record keeping, etc), but I also get to learn; in this case, ancient Roman history.

Trajan’s Column is a Roman triumphal column in Rome, Italy, that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan‘s victory in the Dacian Wars. It’s use of a continuous relief sculpture inspired our 8th grade collaborative project.

Closeup of continuous, wrapped relief sculpture.


Create a low-relief sculpture that links to two other students’ work. Your relief sculpture must have a foreground, middle ground, and background. Your sculpture’s content or subject does not have to flow with your partners’, however your images should flow from one to the other.


We began with 6″x10″ sketches, and I created a random order of my students’ names. This was a great way to get students to collaborate, and students worked together much more than I anticipated during this planning stage.


The biggest challenge for most students was creating perspective by etching into clay. The basic rule is “the farther away the object, the deeper into the clay it is.”