Space Syntax Analysis and the Domestic Architecture of the Roman West

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Tennant, Sean, History of Art and Architecture - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Smith, Tyler Jo, Department of Art, University of Virginia

In the first century AD, following a period of expansion and conquest that stretched the bounds of its territory to the edges of the known world, the Roman Empire had grown to encompass the frontiers of the Roman northwest, a region which would come to be known as three separate provinces: Gaul, Germania, and the island of Britannia. These areas, at the edge of the Roman world, contained their own populations, replete with distinct cultures, architecture, and ways of life distinct from the cosmopolitan Mediterranean world of their Roman conquerors. Over the course of decades and centuries, indigenous ways of life adapted to and incorporated the advances and technological innovations brought by the Latin invaders. The phenomenon of this cultural change, long referred to by scholars as “Romanization,” is manifest in the archaeological record. Nowhere is this truer than in the architectural remains of the domestic spaces occupied by these provincial inhabitants of the Roman Empire, traditionally grouped together under the umbrella term of “Celts.”
Employing a methodology grounded in network theory, the present study applies space syntax analysis to the architectural plans of over 350 domestic sites from the Roman northwest. The goal is to search for evidence of consistent patterns to the use and arrangement of space, and to follow those patterns to discern if there is detectable change over time and geographic space. From that data, the Romanization model, now over a century old, is put to the test. The layouts of these domestic structures, which appear outwardly Roman in their architecture, yet distinct from Roman houses elsewhere in the Empire, contain a missing piece of information regarding the nature of how these citizens northerly citizens of the Roman Empire adapted and negotiated their place in the larger Roman world.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Archaeology, Networks, Houses, Domestic Architecture, Rome, Space Syntax
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