Inventing Public and Private: The Development of Spatial Dynamics and State Organization within Archaic Central Italic Cities

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This dissertation demonstrates that the development of monumental public architecture occurred contemporaneously in urban centers of both Latium and Etruria in the late 6th century BC and argues that its catalyst was a profound shift in socio-political organization that took place throughout Central Italy. It analyses these developments through a lens of spatial theory, especially that of environment behavior studies, to understand how they impacted urban societies of Central Italy. The link between the construction of novel public structures in the Roman Forum and the political upheaval of the late 6th century BC has been well established in previous scholarship. New architectural forms lent shape to the Forum, providing the built environment of Rome with an explicitly public space reflective of its new Republican organization. Yet it was not an isolated phenomenon. It can be detected in the urban form of several contemporaneous Latin and Etruscan cities. While the historical record of these cities is far less robust than that of Rome, their archaeological record supports the conclusion that a similar political shift transpired across the larger region of Central Italy during the late 6th and early 5th centuries. In addition to Rome, cities such as Satricum, Caere, and Vulci constructed monumental tripartite temples, public squares, and assembly halls for the first time. These structures appear as a linked assembly and are innovative in their architectural form, but more importantly in their conceptual configuration as explicitly public structures. They not only facilitated the habitual behaviors of the offices of state and citizen bodies that were gradually introduced during this period but also symbolically represented the authority of the state itself. Previously, the regiae and domestic courtyard complexes of local rulers had served as loci for both private and public activity in early archaic cities. The newfound spatial delineation between public and private is reflective of the elaboration of state level organization that saw individual identity and political authority formally separated through the institution of official offices.





LoPiano, Antonio Robert (2024). Inventing Public and Private: The Development of Spatial Dynamics and State Organization within Archaic Central Italic Cities. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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