Roman Urban Street Networks
Streets and the Organization of Space in Four Cities
By Alan Kaiser
Routledge – 2011 – 250 pages
Series: Routledge Studies in Archaeology
The streets of Roman cities have received surprisingly little attention until recently. Traditionally the main interest archaeologists and classicists had in streets was in tracing the origins and development of the orthogonal layout used in Roman colonial cities. Roman Urban Street Networks is the first volume to sift through the ancient literature to determine how authors used the Latin vocabulary for streets, and determine what that tells us about how the Romans perceived their streets. Author Alan Kaiser offers a methodology for describing the role of a street within the broader urban transportation network in such a way that one can compare both individual streets and street networks from one site to another.
This work is more than simply an exploration of Roman urban streets, however. It addresses one of the central problems in current scholarship on Roman urbanism: Kaiser suggests that streets provided the organizing principle for ancient Roman cities, offering an exciting new way of describing and comparing Roman street networks. This book will certainly lead to an expanded discussion of approaches to and understandings of Roman streetscapes and urbanism.
'This book’s individual chapters will profit scholars specializing in each city, but the most profound points emerge when the book is read in its entirety. Kaiser’s work exposes some dynamics and phenomena that might otherwise slip by and provides critical context for sites like Pompeii that can occasionally be taken as "typical" or paradigmatic for Roman urbanism. All in all, Kaiser should be commended for bringing a new and rigorous approach to these cities and for arming scholars of Roman urbanism with a toolkit for interrogating other street networks and the placement of buildings within them.' - Bryn Mawr Classical Review
‘The emergence of the academic study of streets is probably the most exciting development in Classical Archaeology in the 21st century. Alan Kaiser resourcefully draws together philology and archaeology to further establish the architecture of the street as the means to understand the nature of urbanism in the Roman Empire.’ – Ray Laurence, University of Birmingham
‘An important study which will be essential reading for all those interested in the topography of Roman cities and the people who inhabited them.’ – Penny Goodman, University of Leeds
‘Alan Kaiser takes an innovative approach to the study of Roman cities in this highly readable book. The scholarship is impressive, and the results of the study are significant.’ – James Wiseman, Boston University
Introduction 1. Textual Evidence for Roman Perceptions of Streets and Plazas 2. Defining and Analyzing Street Networks in the Archaeological Record 3. Pompeii 4. Ostia 5. Silchester 6. Empúries 7. Streets, Space and Roman Urbanism
Alan Kaiser is an Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Evansville and author of The Urban Dialogue: An analysis of the use of space in the Roman city of Empúries, Spain. He has participated in archaeological projects in Spain, Italy, Greece, England, Nevis, and the United States.