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A Reexamination of Traffic in Pompeii's Regio VI- The Casa del Fauno, the Central Baths, and the Reversal of Vico di Mercurio


A reexamination of Pompeii’s network of urban streets in Regio VI during the 2003 and 2004 field seasons has revealed a greater degree of complexity in the evidence for the direction of traffic than previously recognized. The directional flow of traffic in this area was outlined in a paper presented at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (“Directionality of Pompeii’s Urban Streets,” 2001). Continued research in Regio VI, while supporting the preliminary findings, has revealed changes in the flow of traffic over time. The crucial east-west thoroughfare, Vico di Mercurio, is still seen to carry westbound traffic in the latest phases, but significant evidence indicates that an earlier phase allowed a large volume of eastbound carts. Previously unrecognized forms of wearing, such as the marks worn into street features (especially curbstones and stepping-stones) from cart wheels continually overriding them, as well as a greater sensitivity towards the evidence aided the detection of the reversal. While the 2003 study identified the pattern, further research during the 2004 field season concentrated on finding the cause/s of this reversal of direction on Vico di Mercurio. Two hypotheses, one local and one city-wide in scope, were advanced and tested. The first examined the effects of street repair in Regio VI, especially the unfinished repaving program surrounding the Casa del Fauno. The second hypothesis concerned the Central Bath’s construction, which suppressed Vico di Tesmo in the north, reversed its direction in the south, and caused similar effects to radiate across the city.


Field Report
Eric E. Poehler
University of Virginia



Copyright 2006


Copyright 2006