chapter  1
8 Pages


Pompeii was a planned city, like many other Roman cities – or so it is generally asserted by scholars. However, what is meant by ‘planned’ in this context? Roman colonies founded on green- eld sites display Roman planning at its most elaborate. The streets and public space were laid out along geometric lines, which suggests an ordered arrangement. But this has little in common with the modern conception of town planning, which is a complex process for the organisation of modern cities. This modern town planning, unlike Roman ‘planning’, not only lays out a street pattern, but also organises the use of space and takes account of topography, local transport needs, social concerns, economic parameters, conservation and environmental issues, to name but a few. In contrast, what is known as ‘ancient town planning’ only addressed the problem of how the city should be laid out. It was Haver eld, the Oxford historian, who originally asserted the notion of the planned Roman city in 1913. His interpretation of ancient towns as planned has never been questioned and has been reproduced recently by Owens (1991). However, in our assessment of urban space in Pompeii, we need to examine how useful the term ‘town planning’ is for the study of the ancient city. Therefore, in this chapter, the nature of modern and ancient town planning will be evaluated.