Spaces for Living and Spaces of Imagination: Studies for a Sacral Topography of Ancient Roman Cities

In the ideal plan of ancient Roman cities throughout the Roman Empire, one consistently encounters an understanding of space that is highly charged with connotations of the sacred/cosmic—an aspect which has been marginalized in Antiquity Studies given a worldview that is oriented to the modern, the physical, and the scientific. Looked at through the eyes of a religious citizen of ancient Rome, however, the city is not only a public space shaped by everyday transactions but also and above all a highly structured sacral topography. By means of a reconstruction of the sacral organization of space in individual cities, i.e., primarily through examining the basic structure of buildings but also by carrying out ritual acts at the sites, this project aims to approach the ancient Roman perception of space and to create a “mental map” of a citizen of antiquity.

The archeological point of origin for this study was the recent documentation in new archaeological finds of several well-preserved ancient cities in the western and eastern parts of the ancient Roman Empire (present-day Italy, Northern Africa, and the Syrian Arab world).

Term of Project: 2004-2006

Project Members:
Prof. Detlev Kreikenbom (Institute for Ancient Studies)
Prof. Hans Wißmann (Protestant Theology)
Dr. Sabine Fähndrich (Institute for Ancient Studies / Ethnology)

Kreikenbom, Detlev (2006): Ist dies Iuppiters Haus? Die Residenz des Augustus zwischen Präsentation und Wahrnehmung. In: Der ägyptische Hof des Neuen Reiches - seine Gesellschaft und Kultur im Spannungsfeld zwischen Innen- und Außenpolitik. International Mainz Colloquium. Ed. R. Grundlach. Wiesbaden. 284 p.

---. (2004): Wandel der Stadt Lepcis Magna während der Kaiserzeit. In: Kultur, Sprache und Kontakt. Ed. W. Bisang, and Th. U. Verhoeven. Würzburg. P. 255-320.