Matthew Mandich (ISAR), An Interconnected Economy: Urban Expansion and Land Use Succession in Rome and its Environs

Although Rome’s so-called ‘suburbium’ has frequently been viewed as an extension of the City – physically, economically, and demographically – the spatial and economic development of this zone is rarely assessed directly in conjunction with Rome’s urban expansion. Since Rome’s ‘sub-urban’ zone essentially began where the City’s built-up area, or continentia aedificia, ended any outward physical expansion would have had a wider ripple effect, impacting the entire suburban system by causing the successive displacement of people and socio-economic activities (i.e. land uses) surrounding it. To analyze the impacts of this process on a local and regional scale this paper exploits models and theories from economic geography and urban morphology that allow for traceable changes in suburban and rural land use to be understood as a function of the City’s urban growth. By re-examining the available archaeological evidence (both excavation and survey) with the forecasts and predictions of these frameworks in mind, a new model is advanced to chart and analyze land use change on Rome’s urban fringe and in its environs that highlights the interconnected economic activity occurring in and around the City. It is hoped that the methodology presented here will also have value for examining other ancient cities and their surroundings, allowing for further comparative study in the future.