Public space in the Roman Empire: An archaeological problem

Lecture by Assistant Professor Christopher Dickenson (Aarhus University).

2018.03.07 | Christina Levisen

Date Tue 20 Mar
Time 12:00 13:00
Location Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) Aarhus University Moesgård Allé 20, DK-8270 Højbjerg Denmark Building 4230-232


Some of the first things that spring to mind when we think of a Roman period city are its public spaces – the forum, the temples, the shops, the streets, the amphitheatre and the bathhouse. In this lecture I will argue that that such spaces present a major problem for archaeologists. Although they have been excavated and studied across most parts of the Roman Empire for well over a century, this work has paid surprisingly little attention to the crucially important question of what exactly it means to call these spaces public. Furthermore archaeology has contributed far less than it potentially could to our understanding of these spaces, with archaeological evidence more frequently being used to reinforce preconceived ideas than to say anything substantially new. I will make the case that there is a need to put the study of ancient public space on a new footing and will consider ways in which the archaeological evidence might be used more fruitfully.

Lecture/talk, History and archaeology