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Moving through the Gate. Traffic systems and urban nodes in Roman Italy

Simon Malmberg

Porta Tiburtina from inside, before 1869
Porta Tiburtina from inside, before 1869

The project studies movement through two city gates in ancient Rome: the Porta Esquilina in the Republican Wall and the Porta Tiburtina in the Aurelian Wall, linked by the road Via Tiburtina. To provide a preserved archaeological context and general comparative material, the project also comprises the Porta Romana area in Ostia. The importance of the gates and the city walls for the urban development will be investigated by applying a diachronic perspective in the period 50 BCE to 500 CE. By deciding the primary points of access in and out of the city, the location of city gates played a crucial role in the development of street networks and the spatial development of the city. The location and configuration of the city wall influenced contemporary and later projects, such as the creation and placement of squares, markets, churches and palaces. Important urban flows became even more dominating, while others were weakened, dislocated or vanished. Traffic slowed down at the gate, which became a place of waiting, to get in our out. This led to the development of the gate areas into nodes in the urban movement system, which became natural spots for inns, blacksmiths, entertainment and storage, catering to the needs of the travellers. The city gates in this way became important transit areas and developed into an edge city phenomenon. The project aims to focus on the physical and symbolic character of the gate area, and its commercial activity and social interaction. The project is supported by the Rausing Family Foundation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters and the Hagendahl Foundation.

Reconstruction of Porta Romana from outside, by Italo Gismondi      Porta Esquilina from the inside in 1756, by G. Vasi

Conference papers

Using Images in Late Antiquity: Identity, Commemoration, and Response, 13–16 January 2010, Danish Institute in Rome. Title: Above the Gate: Symbols on the gate, and the gate as symbol at Rome, Ravenna and Constantinople

410 - Die Eroberung Roms, 4–6 November 2010, German Archaeological Institute in Rome. Title: The Esquiline: a new monumental centre



Movement and Urban Development at Two City Gates in Rome: the Porta Esquilina and Porta Tiburtina, in R. Laurence & D. Newsome (eds.), Rome, Ostia and Pompeii: Movement and Space (Oxford University Press forthcoming). Written with Prof. Hans Bjur.

Above the Gate. Symbols on the gate, and the gate as symbol at Rome, Ravenna and Constantinople, in S. Birk, T. Myrup Kristensen & B. Poulsen (eds.), Using Images in Late Antiquity (Oxbow Books forthcoming)

Arians on the Esquiline, in C. Machado, J. Lipps and P. von Rummel (eds.), 410 - Die Eroberung Roms (Deutsche Archäologische Institut forthcoming)


Institutets seminarier 2020

Research Seminar

Torsdag 23 januari kl. 17.00

Johan Vekselius (Postdoktor vid Stockholms Universitet, Antikens kultur och samhällsliv): En populismens historia i antikens Rom: plebs, popularer, populus. Eller: folk, folklighet, den folklige

Kan och borde vi prata om populism i antikens Rom? Jag anser det, men innan vi når dit måste vi första veta vad populism är. Något som är en kontroversiell fråga med starkt normativa dimensioner. Jag presenterar därför en översikt av populismen som historiskt fenomen och teoretiskt koncept, huvudsakligen baserat på statsvetenskaplig forskning. Olika definitioner diskuteras och jämkas i det att en arbetsdefinition presenteras. Denna ger för handen att populism visst kan uppstå i politiska system som varken är demokratiska eller representativa. Därefter driver jag en tes om att en populistisk ideologi och praktik karaktäriserade antikens Rom politiska system, ifrån den dimmiga kungatiden med ”tyranniska kungar (enligt grekisk modell), över republikens plebs och popularer, till kejsartiden då populistiska strategier var en integrerad del av kejsarollen.


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