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Directionality of Pompeiiís Urban Streets


For centuries Pompeii has provided the opportunity to study a single moment in 1st Century Roman Campania. In recent decades many scholars have chosen to examine the development of the city and began to excavate the strata below the AD 79 level. Others, such as Sumiyo Tsujimura, who has surveyed the ruts and commented on a system of traffic, believe that synchronic investigation has not been exhausted.

This study continues and expands upon that theme and its evidence. The examination of street intersections in Regio VI has identified diagnostic patterns of wear on curbstones and distinct rutting which demonstrate the direction of traffic. Markings on curbstones - caused by the repeated abrasion of cart wheels in the same location - indicates a presence and volume of wheeled traffic, locates that presence along the right curb, and shows the direction which traffic turned at intersections. Aggregation of the surveys at intersections, combined with the linking evidence of ruts along the length of a street, creates a synchronic 'road map' of traffic in the northwest region of Pompeii.

Diachronic elements were not ignored, however, in this research. Evidence for the evolution of the current street system has been observed in its construction. Some paving events are distinguishable in chronology by being discontinuous and abutting other paving events. On some sections, the rutting adjusts to avoid datable (relatively) objects such as fountains or is absent due to a blockage.


Field Report
Eric E. Poehler
University of Virginia



Copyright 2006


Copyright 2006