Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Management and Exploitation of Pedestrian Traffic in Pompeii
by Betello, Massimo, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2018, 460; 10841341
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation evaluates evidence for pedestrian care, management, and guidance in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Major lines of inquiry are directed toward understanding the rights of pedestrians, the regulations that targeted pedestrians, and, especially, if and how the built environment of Pompeii was modified to direct, control, and take advantage of pedestrian flows.

A fundamental, if seemingly obvious, consideration is that pedestrian movement is unlike vehicular movement. Consequently, the way in which pedestrians and vehicles choose routes and their reactions to the built environment is different; hence, if one wishes to manage their movement, the management strategies need to be different as well.

A basic assumption of this research is that the behavior of ancient Pompeiians can be equated to that of modern pedestrians: route choice is based on costs and convenience, that is, on the use of the least amount of energy and on the comfort provided by the infrastructure.

A review of Roman laws and regulations concludes that, at least within cities, the Romans did manage the movement of heavy vehicles transporting goods or people, and also banned horseback riding. On the other hand, nothing of this sort was attempted for pedestrian traffic, which was subject to no regulations: contrary to the norms in modern western cities, it appears that on public streets Roman pedestrians could legally walk and cross anywhere they wanted. This lack of direct involvement should not be mistaken for indifference: the civic authorities probably recognized that modifications of the built environment could be a more effective approach to pedestrian management.

After a review of the scholarship and excavation reports, this study concludes that neither the outer nor the inner ring road of Pompeii made a complete circuit of the city—at least in 79 CE—and that only some sections were open to traffic. An analysis of the pedestrian qualities of the Suburban Plaza of Pompeii is also proposed.

The areas of Pompeii examined in this study are those where management was probably more necessary, that is the city gates: these spaces acted as bottlenecks of the urban traffic and as such they would be more likely subject to the attention of an authority with an interest in traffic movement. In fact, this study argues that the placement of sidewalks within the city gates and of nearby stepping stones was done in order to guide the movement through the city gates on the opposite sidewalk than the movement to the fountains: in this way a smoother flow would be generated, both by decreasing pedestrian density thanks to the separation of different types of traffic and by keeping fountains—places of congregation—out of the way of those who were just interested in passing by. It is also argued that these modifications were purposely created by the civic authorities in order to achieve an enhanced pedestrian flow—in other words, with the goal of obtaining what we would today call efficiency. Evidence of cases of successful guidance is identifiable in the presence of features that would exploit the resulting flow of pedestrians: the consistent placement of the schola tombs along only one of the two sidewalks outside the city gates, and the higher presence of bars along the same sidewalks within the city are indicative.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dyson, Stephen L.
Commitee: Ault, Bradley A., Higbie, Carolyn
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Classics
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 80/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Archaeology, European Studies, Architecture, Urban planning
Keywords: City gates, Pedestrian regulations, Ring road, Schola tombs, Sidewalks, Stepping stones
Publication Number: 10841341
ISBN: 9780438455245
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