The excavations carried out between 1998 and 2000 by the Municipal Department of Monuments and Cultural Heritage led to important result for our understanding of the Forum of Trajan. Before the excavations, it was commonly believed that a large square served as passage between the Forum of Augustus and that of Trajan.
The new archaeological data allowed for a more accurate reconstruction of a court with porticoes on three sides, decorated with colored marbles. The three sections of the portico were supported by smooth Corinthian columns made of Cipollino marble with green veins and paved with marble slabs alternating Cipollino and pink-red Portasanta marble.
During the excavations a segment of the frieze from the trabeation was brought to light. The piece was decorated with tripods and pairs of winged griffins. The theme of the decoration refers to the mythical context between Hercules and Apollo won by the latter. Infact, according to the myth, Hercules tried to steal the tripod of the Sanctuary in Delphi and the griffins were the guardians of the treasure of Apollo.
On the top of the portico an inscription with gilded bronze letters celebrated the construction of the monument by Trajan made possible by the booty obtained after the two wars won over the Dacian people (101-102 and 105-106 A.D.).
The southern porticoed court served as a sumptuous vestibule for the Forum of Trajan from the south and, at the same time, it was the only passageway into the adjacent Forum of Augustus.