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Ancient Town-Planning   By: (1860-1919)

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[Illustration: STREETS IN TIMGAD. From a photograph.]




Oxford at The Clarendon Press


OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS London::Edinburgh::Glasgow::New York Toronto::Melbourne::Bombay HUMPHREY MILFORD Publisher to the University


The following pages are an enlargement of a paper read to the University of London as the Creighton Lecture for 1910, and also submitted in part to the London Conference on Town planning in the same year.

The original lecture was written as a scholar's contribution to a modern movement. It looked on town planning as one of those new methods of social reform, which stand in somewhat sharp contrast with the usual aims of political parties and parliaments. The latter concern mainly the outward and public life of men as fellow citizens in a state; they involve such problems as Home Rule, Disestablishment, Protection. The newer ideals centre round the daily life of human beings in their domestic environment. Men and women or rather, women and men have begun to demand that the health and housing and food and comfort of mankind, and much else that not long ago seemed to lie outside the scope of legislation, should be treated with as close attention and logic and intelligence as any of the older and more conventional problems of politicians. They will not leave even the tubes of babies' feeding bottles to an off hand opportunism.

Among these newer efforts town planning is one of the better known. Most of us now admit that if some scores of dwellings have to be run up for working men or city clerks or even for University teachers in North Oxford they can and should be planned with regard to the health and convenience and occupations of their probable tenants. Town planning has taken rank as an art; it is sometimes styled a science and University professorships are named after it; in the London Conference of 1910 it got its deductio in forum or at least its first dance. But it is still young and its possibilities undefined. Its name is apt to be applied to all sorts of building schemes, and little attempt is made to assign it any specific sense. It is only slowly making its way towards the recognized method and the recognized principles which even an art requires. Here, it seemed, a student of ancient history might proffer parallels from antiquity, and especially from the Hellenistic and Roman ages, which somewhat resemble the present day in their care for the well being of the individual.

In enlarging the lecture I have tried not only to preserve this point of view, but also to treat the subject in a manner useful to classical scholars and historians. The details of Greek and Roman town planning are probably little known to many who study Greek and Roman life, and though they have often been incidentally discussed,[1] they have never been collected. The material, however, is plentiful, and it illuminates vividly the character and meaning of that city life which, in its different forms, was a vital element in both the Greek and the Roman world. Even our little towns of Silchester and Caerwent in Roman Britain become more intelligible by its aid. The Roman student gains perhaps more than the Hellenist from this inquiry, since the ancient Roman builder planned more regularly and the modern Roman archaeologist has dug more widely. But admirable German excavations at Priene, Miletus, and elsewhere declare that much may be learnt about Greek towns and in Greek lands.

[1] For example, by Beloch in his volume on the cities of Campania, by Schulten in various essays, by Barthel in a recent inquiry into Roman Africa, and by others, to be cited below. Dr. J. Stübben in his Städtebau (Darmstadt, ed. 2, 1907) and Mr. Raymond Unwin in his Town planning in practice (London, 1909) have given interesting notices and illustrations of the subject for modern builders... Continue reading book >>

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