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I Upper-Class Apartment Housing in Ostia and Rome EXCAVATIONS at Ostia, the port city of Rome, have revealed, in the course of the past century, a pattern of urban housing which literary sources also associate with Rome of the High Empire: sturdy four- and five-story apartment blocks (insulae ), constructed primarily in brick and concrete with vaults or wooden raftering, and a high density of settlement—in short, an urban pattern perhaps distinguishable from Rome's only by the much smaller size of Ostia (ca. 20,000-35,000 inhabitants).1 An understanding has also emerged of the relationship between the social structure of Ostia (wellknown from inscriptions) and the types of housing uncovered by excavations.2 The Ostian excavations have in part merely confirmed what was already known from literary sources. Thus, the stately homes of the Ostian governing classes3 are perhaps 1 On Ostia's population, see J. E. Packer, The lnsulae of Imperial Ostia, MAAR 31 (1971) 65-71 (the figures involve many guesses); on the relation of Ostia's housing pattern to Rome, ibid. 74-79. This book, which contains most earlier bibliography, is henceforth cited by the author's last name only. lnsulae are referred to by the "addresses " in G. Calza et al., Scavi di Ostia vol. 1 (1953); e.g. Casa di Diana (1, iii, 3-4). 2 See B. W. Frier, JRS 67 (1977) 27-37 (and literature there cited); compare Packer pp. 71-72. 3 E.g. the Domus della Fortuna Annonaria (v, ii, 8), built ca. AX>. 150-200: cf. A. G. McKay, Houses, Villas and Palaces in the Roman World (1975) 78 (bibliography at n. no); the Domus del Tempio 3 Upper-Class Apartment Housing in Ostia and Rome only smaller and less costly versions of the houses of wealthy Roman senators and knights. Into the category constituted by these mansions can be placed as well a number of large and luxurious apartments, which display the same generous proportions and also the same tendency to orient major rooms in loose, functional groups around an interior court.4 Within such houses and luxury apartments, the rich and powerful of Ostia encountered one another in circumstances of worldly ease. Nor has lower-class housing occasioned much surprise, although to be sure archaeologists have tended to ignore these humble structures and concentrate instead on the better-built and thus better-preserved housing of the upper classes.3 Nonetheless, the plan of Ostia displays a great numerical preponderance of lower-class housing: not only large and relatively well-constructed tenements like the Caseggiato degli Aurighi (in, χ, i),6 but also numerous smaller and more anonymous structures. A typical example is in, i, 12-13: a Trajanic construction consisting of two rectangular "rooms," each ca. 115 sq. m. and each sub­ divided by flimsy partitions into two or three tiny "apart­ ments." The use of temporary partitions is very character­ istic of lower-class housing at Ostia; it occurs also on the mezzanine floor of the Insula degli Aurighi, on the ground Rotondo (1, xi, 2-3), built ca. A.D. 225 (Packer pp. 155-157, plan: p. 99); the Casa delle Muse (in, ix, 22), built ca. A.D. 128 (Packer pp. 173-177, plan: p. 185); in general, G. Becatti, Case Ostiensi (1948). 1 E.g. the handsome apartments in the Insula di Giove e Ganimede (1, iv, 2), built ca. A.D. 120-140 (Packer pp. 134-139, plan: p. 95). 5 This is perhaps the reason why the impression of Ostian housing in such books as R. Meiggs, Roman Ostia (2d ed. 1973) 235-251, is so favorable. In these pages I have largely ignored shops, which, how­ ever, also housed a good portion of the Ostian population; see G. Girri, La Taberna (1956) 37-43. e Built ca. A.D. 140-150 (Packer pp. 177-182, plan: p. 106). Packer's description of the "Second Floor" (more properly, the mezzanine floor) refers to the "later tufa block walls" dividing upstairs rooms (p. 181), and these are clearly visible in his plate LXVI, fig. 188. 4 Upper-Class Apartment Housing in Ostia and Rome floor of the slum-like Caseggiato del Temistocle (v, xi, 2),7 and on the first floor of the Casa di Diana (1, iii, 3-4).8 Because such partitions are easily swept away in the ruin of a building, their existence tends to be ignored by archaeologists . Nonetheless, even the surviving walls confirm an...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400855148
MARC Record
OCLC
55702269
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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