30438 - Archaeology of Roman Cities

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Sustainable cities Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

In this lesson we will look closely at the features of urban civilization in the Roman world, focusing in particular on the characteristics of urban layouts, monuments and their evolution, the various forms of culture promoted in both Rome and its municipalities and colonies, mostly in Italy, from the Republic to the late imperial era.

Breaking this lesson into two parts allows for the didactic activity to be divided into looking at the center of power on one hand and at the Italian suburbs in the other, with some extension into the western and eastern provinces, with specific examples and themes. These themes will include the various aspects of figurative expressions and material culture that developed in various historic and cultural contexts. Students will be able, at the end of this lesson, to critically solve the problems examined, not only with useful instruments for understanding and the development of knowledge in this specific field, but also with the fundamental skills necessary for designing projects and carrying out research in the field of archeology.

Course contents

This course is organized in 2 sections: the first is dedicated to more general themes as the genesis and development of Roman urbanism and the second to modern methods of study of the ancient city and its buildings with particular reference to some case studies, giving priority to those related to ongoing projects of the University of Bologna.

In the first part of the course (6 cfu), we will address the main types of the ancient Roman towns in Italy, in particular regarding their administrative and urban structures (civitates foederatae, coloniae, municipii) and the smaller settlements (praefecturae, fora, conciliabula). To better explain the dynamics involved in the birth and development of Roman settlements, we will look at some case studies from the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian areas as well as from some current research projects in Pompei.

Wide space will also be given to the genesis and urban development of Rome with particular reference to the latest research conducted on the Palatine and the monumental development of the Roman Forum and of the Imperial Forums.

Section 2 (6 cfu): the second part of the course is focused on the methodology that make urban archaeology and archeology of cities in general a modern discipline, which involves experts from various backgrounds. The detailed examination of the urban pattern and monumental assets of several centres from the Tirrenic area and central Italy will provide the basis for the study of the main Adriatic Towns. Within the general frame of the urban analysis of each centre, will be discussed the themes of the functionally organization of the city-space, of the urban-walls and of the residential areas and forms. The archaeology of these ancient roman towns will be connected with the geography of the places in which they developed and to the archaeology of the surrounding landscapes. Another focus will be on the methodology that make urban archaeology and archaeology of cities in general a modern discipline, which involves experts from various backgrounds.

The archaeology of these ancient roman towns will be connected with the geography of the places in which they developed and to the archeology of the surrounding landscapes.


The students attending this course will need to study, besides attending the lessons, the following mandatory books:

Section 1 (6 cfu) 3 required and 1 chosen reading

1. Paul Zanker, La città romana, Laterza 2015 (ebook);

2. La fondazione di Roma raccontata da Andrea Carandini (ebook).

3. M. Osanna, Pompei. Il tempo ritrovato. Le nuove scoperte, Milano 2019 (ebook).

A reading to be chosen among the following in Bibliography

Section 2 (6 cfu)

1. M. Silani, Città e territorio: la formazione della città romana nell'ager Gallicus, Bologna 2017.

2. F. Boschi, Tracce di una città sepolta. Aerofotografia e Geofisica per l'archeologia di Classe e del suo territorio, Ante Quem 2012, pp. 63-108 (Capitoli II, III. ebook).

Students who do not attend this course will need to study the following mandatory books:

Section 1 (6 cfu)

P. Gros, M. Torelli, Storia dell’urbanistica. Il mondo romano, Laterza 2010 (without the last part about the provincial cities);

A. Carandini, Roma. Il primo giorno, Laterza 2007;

Section 2 (6 cfu)

P. Gros, L'architettura romana. Dagli inizi del III secolo a. C. alla fine dell'alto impero, Longanesi 2001, pp. 134-300 (Edifici del centro monumentale: templi, fori, basiliche, curie).

The foreign students, who do not have enough familiarity with Italian,will need to study the following mandatory books:

J. P. Sewell, The formation of Roman urbanism, 338-200 B.C.: between contemporary foreign influence and Roman tradition, Portsmouth 2010 (section 1, 6 cfu);

F. Boschi (ed.), Looking for the Future, Caring for the past. Preventive Archaeology in Theory and Practice, Bologna University Press 2016, pp. 85 -214 (section2, 6 cfu).


List of readings chosen for further information or for classroom presentations:

A.M. Monaco, Korai, imagines clipeate, statue ducum triumphali effigie nel foro di Augusto: nuove ipotesi, in Annuario della Scuola Archeologica di Atene, pp. 335-359 (disponibile su academia.edu).

F. Pesando, M.P. Guidobaldi, Pompei Oplontis Ercolano Stabiae, Roma-Bari 2006, pp. 4-60

H. Von Hesberg, P. Zanker (a c.), Storia dell'architettura italiana. Architettura romana. I grandi monumenti di Roma (un capitolo a scelta).

H. Von Hesberg, P. Zanker (a c.), Storia dell'architettura italiana. Architettura romana. Le città d'Italia, capitoli 1-2, 8-10, 13-15, 19-20, Milano 2012

P. Sommella, Italia antica. Urbanistica romana. La città regolare romana(capitolo IV), Jouvence 2002;

A. Carandini, R, Cappelli (a c.), Roma, Romolo, Remo e la fondazione della città, Electa 2000, pp. 68-73, 95-150, 275-280.

I. H. Hansen, Hellenistic and Roman Butrint, Butrint Foundation 2009.

A. Campedelli, E. Giorgi, Burnum Project. Ricerche della Missione archeologica dell'Università di Bologna in Croazia (2005-2015), Ante Quem 2018.

S. De Maria, E. Giorgi, Urbanistica e assetti monumentali di Suasa. Novità dalle ricerche recenti, in «ICHNIA» 13 (2013);

E. GIORGI, F. DEMMA, Riflessioni sulla genesi e lo sviluppo urbano di Asculum nel Piceno. Dalla città federata alla colonia romana, in Atlante Tematico di Topografia Antica 28 (2018), pp. 26.

F. Vermeulen, From the mountains to the sea. The Roman Colonisation and Urbanisation of Central Adriatic Italy, pp. 61-107 oppure 108-160 (Colonisation and Consolidation).

F. Vermeulen, G.-J. Burgers, S. Keays and C. Corsi (eds.), Urban Landscape Survey in Italy and the Mediterranean, Oxbow 2012 (one chosen paper).

P. Johnson, M. Millett (eds.), Archaeological Survey and the City, Oxbow 2012 (un articolo a scelta).

F. Boschi, Looking for the Future, Caring for the past. Preventive Archaeology in Theory and Practice, Bologna University Press 2016 (one chosen paper).

F. Fabiani, "L'urbanistica: città e paesaggi", Carocci 2014, pp. 15-188.

M. Marini Calvani (a.c.), Aemilia. La cultura romana in Emilia Romagna, Milano 2000.

T.D. Stek, J. Pelgrom (eds.), Roman Republican colonization. New perspectives from Archaeology and Ancient History, Roma 2014.

A. R. Ghiotto, Nuovi dati e nuove ipotesi sulla pianificazione urbana di Aquileia, in «Rivista di Archeologia» 2013.

L. Brecciaroli Taborelli (a.c.), Forme e tempi dell’urbanizzazione nella Cisalpina (II secolo a.C.- I secolo d.C.), Atti delle Giornate di Studio Torino 4-6 maggio2006, Firenze.

Teaching methods

The lessons will be seminars with the use of presentations and case studies of the current research projects led by the professors.

Students will be required to take an active part in the lessons.

Students will have to report one of the reading listed in the bibliography.

Conferences will be organized, additional and open to the public.

Assessment methods

The active participation in lessons, conferences and teaching activities will also be evaluated.

The final vote will be determined by an oral exam.

The questions will cover the following topics:

Section 1

1. Urban Archaeology and Archaeology of Ancient Cities (Methods and problems of research)

2. Urban genesis (Italic Area)

3. Urban and Monumental Development of Rome and of ancient Italic cities

Section 2

1. Genesis and development of urban centers in Adriatic and Ionic area;
2. Urban planning and definition of urban spaces;
3. Relationship between Central Place and surrounding landscape in Adriatic and Ionicarea.

For non-attending students, the interview will focus on the same topics, paying particular attention to the volumes being studied.

Teaching tools

The presentations used during the lessons are available on the web portal of the course.

Office hours

See the website of Enrico Giorgi