Intensification, heterogeneity and power in the development of insula VI.1
Pompeii in AD 79 was a place of diverse social and economic contrasts. Wealth,poverty, power and dependency nestled together in the urban neighbourhoods of the city. Insula VI.1 (Figure 25.1) was a part of one such neighbourhood, situated in the northwestern corner of Pompeii on the busy Via Consolare, adjacent to the Porta Ercolano (Map 3). How does an individual city block come to take on this character and why did it occur? Was the mixture of different kinds of commercial and residential properties, of rich and of poor, the result of the concomitant social degeneration and economic development of the city (a tale present in many traditional accounts of the social and spatial development of Pompeii)?2 Or are other factors responsible for the observable patterns in urban space? The Anglo-American Project in Pompeii3 has investigated these fundamental questions for the past decade in insula VI.1. Consequently, this chapter offers an interpretation of the development of this city block, and in doing so investigates the key process of urbanisation in the area around the Porta Ercolano. The elemental themes coursing through the narrative are: intensification, heterogeneity and power. Their subtle (and at times not so subtle) interplay is instrumental in shaping this portion of the urban landscape.