Thesis Open Access

Auf dem Forum. Die temporäre Platznutzung in antiken Städten Italiens

Lukas C. Bossert


Public, social life in the ancient city culminated on the forum: that this was facilitated by a pragmatic appropriation of the built architectural space surrounding the forum forms the underlying foundation of this thesis. This socio-cultural function of forum architecture is analyzed for (selected) cities of the Italian peninsula of the Late Republic and Early Imperial period. The focus is on the utilitarian dimension of the built structures of the public space – that is, how the architectural configuration of fora influenced the parameters of its use.

The main archaeological evidence for the construction of temporary structures is provided by the discovery of series of systematically positioned pits on Italian fora. Here, the pits are classified and used as the foundation for structural calculations in order to reconstruct the various architectural possibilities as 3D models.


Probable temporary constructions are reconstructed based on the evidence of pits for the fora of Paestum, Cosa and Alba Fucens. On each of these fora, the reconstruction of 'electoral bridges' (pontes), landings and stands are possible.

The impact on the sensory perception of these spaces as a result of the temporary wooden structures thus obtained are then analyzed, with a focus on movement, acoustics, sound, and climate. The acoustic and visual perception for those spaces where temporary structures can be reconstructed is improved in comparison with the permanent structures. The forum itself is thus characterized by differing strategies of use.

These strategies continued to be in use over a long period and, with time, the experience gained led to structural improvements of the temporary constructions. Changes to the pits can be correlated to social (and not necessarily political) reorganizations, whereby new buildings began to assume the functions of the fora. The pits therefore provide evidence for an increase in functional differentiation within architecture and society in the Late Republic.

Unofficial but authorised version of my PhD thesis.
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