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The formation of Roman urbanism, 338-200 B.C. : between contemporary foreign influence and Roman tradition

Sewell, J.


J. Sewell


What were the processes which created the physical model of the first Roman colonial towns? The degree of similarity between certain aspects of Greek and Roman urban design and architectural innovation (338-200 B.C.) provides a strong argument for the Romans having exploited Greek expertise during the early development of the model for Roman colonial urban centres. This is especially apparent in the basic organisation of Roman urban space and fortification architecture. How and why this cultural contact came about is discussed, as are the consequences for our understanding of contemporary Mediterranean interconnectivity. There is a strong case for the Romans having adapted for their colonies by the 3rd c. B.C. a specific Greek house design, labelled the ‘prostas house’ by the German excavators of Priene. This new proposal is based on an extensive reappraisal of Hoepfner’s and Schwandner’s Typenhaus theory: the application of predetermined but flexible house designs for new Greek cities emerged from the need to increase the efficiency of resource management during the foundation process. A Greek system for building houses en masse was also seemingly adapted by the Romans. The crystallisation of the atrium house design was probably a related phenomenon. To what degree and why the Latin colonies physically and institutionally resembled their mother city is also discussed, for the design of colonial fora appears to have been partially adapted from the forum Romanum. Colonial fora, for example, had domus congregated around them. Why? At Rome the atria of domus were a setting for activities essential for the res publica, activities that were interrelated with those on the Forum. Employing a wide range of archaeological and textual sources, this book places particular emphasis on elucidating the ideological and practical aspects of Roman urbanism during the Middle Republic.


Sewell, J. (2010). The formation of Roman urbanism, 338-200 B.C. : between contemporary foreign influence and Roman tradition. Journal of Roman Archaeology

Book Type Authored Book
Publication Date 2010
Deposit Date Sep 12, 2012
Publisher Journal of Roman Archaeology
Series Title Supplementary series ; 79
Publisher URL

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