The Traffic Systems of Pompeii is the first sustained examination of the development of road infrastructure in Pompeii-from the archaic age to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE-and its implications for urbanism in the Roman empire. Eric E. Poehler, an authority on Pompeii's uniquely preserved urban structure, distills over five hundred instances of street-level "wear and tear" to reveal for the first time the rules of the ancient road. From his analysis of curbstones, cobbled surfaces, and ruts emerge the intricacies of the Pompeian traffic system and the changes to its operation over time. Though archaeological expertise forms the backbone of this book, its findings have equally important historical and architectural implications. Later chapters probe the impact of design and infrastructure on social roles and hierarchies among property owners in Pompeii, illuminating the economic forces that push and pull upon the shape of urban space. The final chapters set the road system into its broader context as one major infrastructural and administrative artifact of the Roman empire's deeply urban culture. Where does Pompeii's system fit within the history of Roman traffic control?
Is it unique for its innovation, or only for the preservation that permitted its discovery? Poehler marshals evidence from across the Roman world to examine these questions. His measured and thoroughly researched answers make this study a critical step forward in our understanding of infrastructure in the ancient world.
Eric E. Poehler is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Co-Director of the Pompeii Quadriporticus Project. He has published widely on Roman urbanism, infrastructure, and architectural history.