4 Pages

The Idea of a Town

WithJoseph Rykwert

In this chapter, the author recollects the memories of his early life. The author had started out on his research by taking for granted the commonplace that the Roman grid town plan was a 'solidified' version of the military camp. As he continued to look through excavation reports and ancient texts, while questioning the relation of the Romans with both the Greeks and the Etruscans, it became increasingly clear that the commonplace had inverted the real situation. Research in the Warburg or the British Museum was free and fine, but going over the results on a very rickety, outmoded three-tier typewriter grew increasingly irksome. The labyrinth or maze became an obsession, and it chimed with his intuition that the ancient city, even when it presented itself as a checkerboard, had also to be read as a kind of maze – as a dance or game.