I’d like to introduce a new website focused on the urbanism of the Roman world, which will mostly be concerned with the cities and towns of the Roman Empire in the imperial period (about A.D. 14-284).

Although scholars have always known that cities and towns were one of the most important features of the ancient world, it has been surprisingly difficult to discuss some basic aspects of the urbanism of the Roman world.[1] This includes not only how many cities and towns there were and how they changed by region or over time, but also how large most of them were in terms of both size and population, let alone how large the total population or urbanization rate might have been.

Over the last few years, however, there has been an increasing interest in answering exactly these kinds of questions, which has prompted both the generation of new data and the application of new methods.[2] This is represented, for example, not only by the work that I’ve been doing as a doctoral student at the University of Oxford and a research associate at the University of Colorado, Boulder, but also by the collaborative efforts that are being done at the University of California, Berkeley, and Leiden University.

This website is therefore intended to be a space for sharing a few, occasional, thoughts about the urbanism of the Roman world, as well as a platform for providing some useful links and resources for anyone interested in researching or teaching in this area. It’s also my hope that it will allow the various individuals and teams of people who are working in this field to collaborate more effectively.

It’s an exciting time to be working on both ancient and modern urbanism, so there’s a lot of work to do!


[1] Finley 1977: 305; for example, see the summaries in Scheidel 2007 and Erdkamp 2012.

[2] Scheidel 2009: 53; Wilson 2009: 74.


Erdkamp, P., (2012), ‘Urbanism’, in Scheidel, W. (ed.), (2012), The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Economy, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 241-265.

Finley, M. I., (1977), ‘The ancient city from Fustel de Coulanges to Max Weber and beyond’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 19: 305-327.

Scheidel, W., (2007), ‘Demography’, in Scheidel, W., Morris, I., and Saller, R., (eds.), (2007), The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 38-86.

Scheidel, W., (2009), ‘In search of Roman economic growth’, Journal of Roman Archaeology, 22: 46-70.

Wilson, A. I., (2009), ‘Indicators for Roman economic growth: A response to Walter Scheidel’, Journal of Roman Archaeology, 22: 71-82.

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