Postgraduate Research Archaeology Symposium

Katherine Crawford (2016)

Keywords: Roman religion, ports, cityscape


Religion was woven into the fabric of Roman daily activity, acting as an integral part of society. Despite its evident importance, its placement within the urban environment and how people interacted with religion on a daily basis remains less fully understood. Using Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, as a case study, this paper considers the integration of religion by analysing the access and visibility of temples within the urban environment in terms of their location along processional routes. Despite an extensive number of studies pertaining to particular temples, there is currently no scholarship that considers Ostian religion upon the basis of temple placement and its relationship to the surrounding urban environment. The applied methodology builds upon previous studies concerning urban construction, spatial studies, and movement within the city to explore how visibility and perception influenced the construction and placement of temples along processional routes used during religious festivals and processions. As processions were not static events, but constantly changing to adapt to different circumstances, temples provided an essential framework for the execution and display of religious rituals. Study of the spatial position of temples within Ostia provides insight towards the dynamic relationship that existed between religious spaces and the negotiation of ritual activities.