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Via Tiburtina. Space, movement & artefacts in the urban landscape

Hans Bjur and Barbro Santillo Frizell


Via Tiburtina, which connects the commercial centres of Rome, Forum Romanum and Forum Boarium  with Tivoli, represents a long history of complex relations between centre and periphery. The urban spaces and the landscape surrounding the thoroughfare have a long history leading all the way up to the present urban development plans. Rome’s several thousand years of urbanism illustrate in a unique way the basic research problem, viz. the complex relations between old and new and the transformation of the surrounding landscapes by movement, urbanization and amalgamation with artefacts through the millennia. Moreover, in Rome the contemporary problem of sustainable urban development has an interesting complexity and is given an advanced treatment in recent planning practice as well. Rome’s development has also for a long time been subject to extensive research in several academic disciplines and from many different aspects, providing an unusually rich empirical material to develop, elaborate and synthesize.

In this project Rome is seen as a palimpsest. The concept was adopted, on the one hand in order to read the hidden layers per se and to discuss their contexts, and on the other hand to reflect upon their meaning in sequential urban layers.  Urbanism is looked upon as being composed of different more or less distinct layers originating in different times of development or decline. In traditional  landscape archaeology, artefacts are related to structures primarily of their own time period and context  while in this concept of urban landscape archaeology, artefacts of all time periods should be related to the present landscape. The difference lies in the positions of the spaces and artefacts in relation to time. The time depth in connection with the present lends relevance and distinction to the subject. The main concern is whether and how these built survivals from different time and space interact and are readable simultaneously, constituting  a multiple exposure of settlements, spaces of movement, city plans and architecture in the urban space. However, the focus is not just on the appearance of the physical construct of the urban landscape, but also on the intangible underlying spatial systems.

This research project gathered scholars from a  wide range of academic fields: archaeology and ancient history, architecture and art history, urban design and planning, landscape architecture, integrated conservation and cultural heritage management. The result is published in the volume, Via Tiburtina. Space, Movement & Artefacts in the Urban Landscape (eds. H. Bjur& B. Santillo Frizell). The first part frames Via Tiburtina geographically, as a space of movement related to various resources in the Rome region and connections between the Apennines and the Mediterranean Sea. The second concerns the movement system of which Via Tiburtina forms a part, and the activities and nodes, which generates movement on the road. The next two parts deal with the (re)organization of space and contemporary planning, and thus, in the main, with the future. The perspective is necessarily widened and includes Rome’s development strategies as a whole. The concluding part gives an account of the present models for integrating artefacts and cultural heritage into urban design and sustainable development. 


International Seminar at the Swedish Institute in Rome, 11-12 December 2009

Via Tiburtina: space, movement & artefacts in the urban landscape

Seminar "Via Tiburtina" - the participants     Hans Bjur: interview Sveriges Radio


Krister Svahn, Modern stadsplanering samspelar med historien, GU Spegeln nr 1, 2010

Carina Järvenhag, Forskare på bokmässan: "Jag vill skapa en tvärvetenskaplig plattform", Forskarporträtt, 2009-09-11

Mikael van Reis, Romersk rosticceria, Göteborgs Posten, 20 september 2009

Graham Fairclough (2012): Via Tiburtina: Space, Movement and Artefacts in the Urban Landscape, Landscape Research, 37:1, 137-139.

Jean‑François Bernard, « Comptes rendus bibliographiques », Revue archéologique, 2012/1 n° 53, p. 185-237.


Marco Cavalieri (2012): Via Tiburtina: Space, Movement and Artefacts in the Urban Landscape, in L'Antiquité Classique LXXXI, 2012, 597-599.

B. Stenuit: in Latomus 71, 2012, 632.

Robert Bedon, Revues des Etudes Anciennes, 2013, Tome 115, 335-338.

The press release of the volume has been published in following sites:

e! Science News
First Science news
Innovations report
Jura Forum
Science week
Spero news


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