chapter  2
20 Pages

Defi ning and Analyzing Street Networks in the Archaeological Record

The literary evidence indicates that during the late Republic and much of the Principate, Romans divided city streets and plazas into mental categories based on their structure and used these categories to help decide along which type of street certain activities should take place. This idea dovetails nicely with Lynch’s suggestion, discussed in the introduction, that the way one came to understand a Roman city was by moving from one location to the next along the streets. If we are going to examine streets in the archaeological record as part of a network, new methods for describing streets are required. Traditional approaches of excavating and analyzing just one street or of looking at all of the streets in a city simply as part of an orthogonal grid do not help us investigate the role of each street in relation to every other street. This chapter outlines ways of understanding the role of a street within the larger urban network. It begins by defi ning what a street and plaza are for the purposes of this study and by describing the physical makeup and features of an ancient Roman city street. The chapter then reviews some of the recent scholarship that has suggested ways of studying the street networks of Roman cities. Introducing some techniques of modern urban geographers, it fi nally lays out the methodology to be used to analyze the evidence from the four case-study cities.