Pompeji – Life in Public Space – a study of the public, open spaces in an ancient town


The project about life in the ancient town of Pompeii has now been concluded. The results are accessible in Marina Weilguni’s PhD-thesis “Streets, spaces and places. Three Pompeiian movement axes analysed” published in the BOREAS series in September 2011. In the same volume you can also read Karin Fridell Anter’s article “Colour in the Pompeiian cityscape”.

What new insights did the project lead to? Among other things we found that the inhabitants of Pompeii lived their lives in an environment that reminded them of their place in society at every turn – there were specific places in the town’s fabric , where the message was almost overwhelming, like the broad street-space in front of the theatre, from which people were admitted to the play according to rank and status. Other exciting things were the remnants of a regulated traffic system for carts, and that different streets hade a very differing colour scheme – and colour was certainly used to  express status and wealth!
We think that we managed to understand much more about how people lived in the entirety of public space in Pompeii – how their normal days looked when they left their homes and went out into the the public reality availbale to everyone.
Partly, our work was based on what other researchers have written, but we have also made an extensive inventory of  Pompeiian characteristics that may never have been placed in such an encompassing urban context: the remnants of colour the town’s walls, the wheel ruts ingrained in the street pavements, and the inherent properties of space along different streets.

If you don’t want to read the entire book, but still want to get the gist of our results, you can always read the interpretations in the form of small “stories” that are to be found on  pages 116-117, 139, 141-142, 145-146, 150-151, 152, 218-221 and 293-295.

Marina’s thesis and Karin’s study of facade colour in Pompeii.

Färgen på Pompejis murar


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