chapter  3
16 Pages

Children and the urban environment: agency in Pompeii

ByR AY LAURENCE

Introduction Work on Pompeii has sought to map key aspects of public space with a view to understanding the local variation across the excavated city. As most will know, two-thirds of the 66 hectares of the site has been excavated. The neighbourhoods have been approached with a focus on: where activities occurred – for example – the worship of the gods at street shrines, the collection of water from public fountains, and the presence or absence of bakeries, bars and other commercial outlets. Within this view of the city at a local level, much of the focus has been upon an adult-adult interaction with little discussion of how children might have utilised the public spaces of the city, or at what age might their access to public space and its urban amenities have been enabled. Work to date, by Katherine Huntley on the drawing of stick-figures by children and by Renata Garraffoni and Ray Laurence on the writing of ABCDs, has demonstrated that we can identify children learning and playing in public space.1 The key aspect of determining the presence of the child has been undertaken in these studies with reference to developmental psychology/anthropology and with reference to the height off the ground of children at different ages. This is a key concept for the investigation of the child in the Roman city that may provide the means to accessing the differential between the adult’s city and the child’s city. This chapter reviews where we might measure the access of children by age/height to key features of the Roman city and to define how that access changed according to their age/height.2