Robert Lyon

Robert LyonThe Origins of Roman City Planning

At its height, ancient Rome stretched from the British Isles to the Near East, dominating through conquest and assimilation. To facilitate such a vast empire a well-designed and efficient infrastructure was required. The towns and cities that brought Roman rule to the far corners of the empire did not just appear. They needed to be planned and built, however Rome itself does not seem to have dictated a specific plan for her cities. One theory is that Roman castra, or military camps, provided a source for the design of these towns. Whether the town plans were directly based on military camp layouts, or merely adapted some of their features, Roman legionary fortresses appear to have had significant influence on city planning and construction. Researching this topic is often made difficult by later building; in some cases centuries of building have occurred on and over the original settlement.  Ancient and contemporary documentary sources, as well as researching archaeological site reports, are being used to explore the links between legionary fortresses and the resulting towns.  I plan to create two museum-quality scale models, one of a legionary fortress in its prime and also a Roman town that was created around a fortress.