This biography of the archaeologist and scholar Rodolfo Lanciani (1845 1929) offers a framework to assess his pronouncements on the ancient Roman past. It examines his highly diverse scholarly production: the academic and the popular writings, in both the Italian and the English language. His fascinations, interpretations, and presentations of ancient Rome are positioned within a broad context of historical and cultural events in late 19th-century Rome, the recently established capital of the new Italian state. This includes an examination of the subtle transformations in the practice of archaeology in Italy at the time, the extreme destruction of ancient Rome as the modern capital was being constructed, the variable oversight of the bureaucratic archaeological services in Rome, and the heated political discourse over the ownership and display of cultural patrimony in the nation. Lastly, this monograph reveals how the erudite, ambitious, charming and self-promoting Lanciani contributed and responded to the extreme interests of a nexus of international scholars, archaeologists, collectors, and museum professionals, from outside Italy, including those from the United States.