The Construction of Sidewalks as Indicator of Social and Economic Interaction in Ancient Roman Cities


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Art and Archaeology


The difference in constructions provided for pedestrians in four ancient Roman cities—Pompeii, Herculaneum, Ostia, and Minturnae—suggests that sidewalk construction, or lack thereof, reflected differences in the social culture of the street front in these locations. This study analyzes both textual and physical evidence for the dialogue between municipal and private interests, and employs cutting-edge computer imaging methods to correlate sidewalk constructions, or their absence, with property types, street characteristics, and other urban infrastructural features. As urban culture shifted priorities over time, from public display of social hierarchy to commerce, from social integration to private isolation, the construction of sidewalks also waxed and waned to support these new patterns of behavior.