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Ancient City, Universal Growth? Exploring Urban Expansion and Economic Development on Rome’s Eastern Periphery

Date and Time: 
Thursday, March 14, 2019. 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Archaeology Center
Workshop: 
Archaeology: Connectivity and Temporality, An Archaeological View
Meeting Description: 

As the city of Rome experienced substantial physical and demographic growth from the mid-Republic to the later Imperial period it also experienced periods of significant economic change. While such developments are often difficult to track and analyze, archaeologically observable changes in land use on the City’s urban fringes can be used to investigate broader economic oscillations over the longue durée. As Rome’s continuously built area (or continentia aedificia) grew beyond the City’s physical, traditional, and administrative boundaries it would have caused the successive displacement of people and socio-economic activities; however, tracking this growth is difficult without an appropriate framework. To properly analyze the evolving landscape this paper exploits models and theories from economic geography, urban morphology, and complexity science that allow for changes in peripheral land use to be interpreted as a function of urban expansion and economic development. By re-examining the available archaeological and textual evidence concerning residential land use on Rome’s eastern periphery (i.e. the Esquiline and Caelian Hills and the immediate eastern environs) the types of urban and economic growth (and decline) occurring over the period of study are defined. How the patterns observed square with historical data and the principles and predictions of the frameworks employed is crucial for determining if ancient Rome was growing and performing like a modern city.

Dr. Mattew J. Mandich received his PhD in July 2017 from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester (UK). His thesis, "The Growth and Extent of Rome: From Fringe to Suburb," used models and theories from economic geography, urban morphology, and complexity science to uncover and assess correlations between the physical, economic, and demographic growth of the City from the Archaic to the late Imperial period. He recently signed a contract with Routledge (Taylor and Francis) to have this book published in their series Studies in Roman Space and Urbanism. While at the University of Leicester, he taught on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, lecturing on a wide range of topics including landscape archaeology, the Roman economy, maritime archaeology, Roman villas and gardens, early Christian churches, and the sustainability of ancient food systems. Since 2005, he has worked on excavation, survey, and material studies projects in and around the city of Rome and he is currently the Assistant Director of Excavations at the Signum Vortumni Project in the Roman Forum. He is also the chair of the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC) Standing Committee and a co-founder and member of the editorial board for the recently launched, Open-Access Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal (TRAJ).

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