Roman Urbanization Why Was Urbanization Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Massive and long Roman road leading directly through the center of cities according to Zaker, forms the core of the identity of these outposts, as they then felt connected and a fundamental part of the whole of the empire, as it grew. (p. 29)

In addition to Capitolium, road centralization and city planning new public buildings, often sanctuaries or temples and tomb monuments served to centralize the minds of the people with their substantial visual representation garnering immediate respect for the public entities who developed them and the city itself and an entity. (pp. 29-33) Even the most lowly individuals on the food chain, at least living in the city or even visiting it had an idea in mind of the planned web of building that connected everything and everyone to the center of the city and the empire. "This close linking, or rather intertwining, of sacred and political space is undoubtedly a specifically Roman concept, expressing an ideological notion of central importance." (p. 33) Post, the 4th BC the Roman city plan became the ideal of the development of Roman outposts and settlements and served as an ideal for the development of ideology. (pp. 40-41) Zankers, admittedly brief review of city planning, limits the idea of conflict between individual Roman citizens, all who came from Rome and were often honored for military conquests and the indigenous populations, in its discussion of Roman city building and identity. The work Roman Pompeii, does more to express this essential conflict. (Laurence, 2007)

Yet, it can also be said that the act of submitting indigenous populations to the Roman city plan and Roman ideas and laws, most often just before and after military conquest, also helped glue the society together as the indigenous populations eventually felt at least protected by if not a part of the centralized identity of the empire, through public building. (pp. 20-38) Pompeii in fact offers a significant example of Roman city building and planning, as it was fundamentally locked in time by the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius.

The planning of the public spaces represent a transformation of an outpost into a Roman city, and though there was still marked conflict over representation and ownership, between colonists and Roman citizens planning is still the mark of the city. (pp. 20-38) Additionally, even before the conquest of the outpost there were centralized and centrally planned public works that were the impetus of the magistrates of Rome. In the late 3rd century the magistrates were responsible for or at least involved in nearly every aspect of public improvement, embellishments such as sundials, temples, arenas and public baths. (p. 20) After conquest these public works increased in number and size, and may have led to greater conflict, yet through conflict there is identity building, be it as part of or as outsiders of the larger empire.(p. 20-31) the foundations for Roman conquest and protector-ship began insidiously through Roman building and organization of space and public works.

In Becoming Roman the urbanization and identity building of the Guals is discussed at great length (Woolf, 2003, pp. 112-127) "To be sure each city had its own history...." many were, "transformed gradually into an early Gallo-Roman town...then replaced by a new city on a green field site twenty miles away at Autun, where an orthogonal street grid, circuit walls and civic monuments might be constructed from scratch." (p. 113) and so it went all over the Roman empire, until Rome reached such outposts as were simply to far away to be supported by more than soldierly activities, such as one finds in northern Europe, England and Scotland, though each was still significantly affected by Roman planning and identity. Finally, Perkins and Nevett in their chapter Urbanism and Urbanization in the Roman World, develop the idea that the Roman city is in and of itself the ideal of what a city is even in the ideal of today. (2000, pp. 213-244)


Laurence, R. (2007) (2nd ed). Roman Pompeii: Space and Society. New York: Routledge, 20-38.

Perkins, P & Nevett, L. (2000). Urbanism and Urbanization in the Roman World: Huskinson, J. (ed) Experiencing Rome, Huskinson, J. Ed. New York: Routledge, 213-244.

Woolf, G. (2003) Becoming Roman: The Origins of Provincial Civilizations in Gaul. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge Press.

Zanker, P. (2000). The City as Symbol. in: Fentress, E & Alcock (eds). Romanization…

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