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Interaction of the Water System and Traffic System in Pompeii.

Research conducted in Pompeii during the 2002 and 2003 field seasons concentrated on changes to the pattern of traffic and on the nature of those changes. Previous consideration of this question was limited to a single case study in the area surrounding Insula VI.iv (“A Diachronic Perspective on Directionality: Detour and the Pattern of Pompeian Traffic” in 104th Annual Meeting Abstracts [New Orleans 2003] 96-7) and concluded that road resurfacing was the cause of alteration to the previous traffic pattern. The unexpected result of a citywide survey was the discovery of a fundamental link between the flow of water and the flow of vehicles. This paper 1) explores the interaction of these two elements in the ancient city’s infrastructure and 2) examines specific instances when the construction, elaboration, and modification of the water system impacted the design of the traffic system. Evidence is found throughout Pompeii, but special focus is given to Via Stabiana and Via dell’Abbondanza.

The close connection between streets and the water supply has long been known. Indeed, the very form of streets - the high curbs, presence of stepping-stones, and the durability of the pavement and its noticeable camber – makes clear their role in the drainage of waste-water. However, it is the locations in the street of supply system architecture, such as fountains and water towers, which reveals integration in the planning for traffic control and water supply. This research also has broader implications for our understanding of Pompeii’s urban texture, especially in the debated area east of the Forum in Region VII.


Field Report
Eric E. Poehler
University of Virginia



Copyright 2006


Copyright 2006