Nodes of Urban Development in Ancient Rome

  • Laurence, Ray (Primary Chief Investigator)
  • Jones, Jack (Student)
  • Coopey, Ewan (Student)
  • Twyford, Oliver (Student)
  • Zhang, Tiana (Student)
  • Watson, Alexandrea (Student)
  • Dehring, Jackson (Student)
  • Tsang, Nathan (Student)
  • Bezzina, Dominique (Student)

Project: Research

Project Details


To create a book for the Studies in Roman Space and Urbanism Series (Routledge) through collaboration with undergraduate student interns, MRes students and PhD students.

Key concepts
A. City Extension via Monumental Development

We will argue that particular monumental projects extended Rome from a core (say Capitol, Palatine and Forum) into a multi-centred city. Effectively, creating a monument, such as Pompey’s Theatre, pulled the city towards this new attraction – either visually or physically.

The new monument could become (NB not all did) the focus for further development at a later date, for example the Saepta, or the Agrippan programme in the Campus Martius. The project documents the development from the monumental node of other buildings and structures, as well as any change of meaning or conception, or destruction and restoration.

B. On Nodes and Lines

Kevin Lynch (1960) The Image of the City defines lines and nodes within cities that underpin an urban image of the city, based around: identity, structure, and meaning.

The building of a new iconic monument created a new node around which clustered subsequent monumental building projects. Thus, the creation of a node spreads the city and de-centres the city.

This contrasts with the development of lines between nodes that is encapsulated in William McDonald’s conception of armature in The Architecture of the Roman Empire II: An Urban Appraisal. Hence, the node must be understood with reference to the lines connecting it to other nodes.

C. Critique of a Unified Image

Diane Favro (1996) The Urban Image of Augustan Rome
p.2 ‘In the majority of cities throughout history, urban experiences evolved in an ad hoc manner, with limited purposeful manipulation. The lack of concern with the choreograph of experiences and urban meaning resulted in unclear or unmemorable urban ideas. In select instances, however, strong forces attempted to shape a focused, purposeful image. The choreographed experiences, imprinted signs and symbols, and unifying narratives of a few cities from different periods and cultures still have the power to affix in the memory.’

She goes onto argue that Augustus the great man choreographed the landscape of Rome. We will suggest that the decentring of Rome created competing places that had to be cognitively unified into a conception of the city. The enveloping of Rome by the Aurelian Wall – delimits and defines the city

D. How was it decided, where to build the new monument?

Large monuments need space – isolation of the new monument or build ‘next to’ existing monuments, or overwriting the past – e.g. Porticus of Livia
Bridges need a location How was this decided?

Effective start/end date3/07/181/03/21