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Abstract:

 

A Diachronic Perspective on Directionality: Detour and the Pattern of Pompeian Traffic
 

The streets surrounding Insula 4 (Region VI) illuminate not only Pompeii's system of traffic but also the modifications to that system overtime. Synchronic and diachronic forms of evidence for traffic, when analyzed both separately and in combination, reveal the sequence of street resurfacing events and the concomitant effects that those events had on the traffic of the surrounding streets. Research carried out in the 2001 and 2002 field seasons demonstrates that road construction and the associated disruption in the flow of traffic that it causes are not exclusively modern phenomena. This paper defines the directionality of the ancient traffic through a careful survey of the locations and interactions of wheel ruts, diagnostic curbstone and narrowing stone wear, and street width. The methodology for this work was previously presented in the paper "Directionality of Pompeii's Urban Streets" (AIA 2001). Evidence for the changes over time to this observed pattern is found in the existence of different sections of paving, the junctions between them, and the proximity of displaced paving stones including spherical "blanks". In combination, the synchronic evidence indicating vehicle direction and the diachronic evidence of dissimilar paving events on each street (and even within a single street) reveal the evolution of the current pattern of traffic. Moreover, this research demonstrates that a detour was part of the system of traffic, reordering the process of driving during Pompeii's final days. Finally, this paper addresses the durability of the ancient urban street.


 

Field Report
Eric E. Poehler
University of Virginia

 


 

Copyright 2006


 

Copyright 2006