This post-doctoral study investigates the experiences of coexistence in urban quarters of ancient Roman towns by finding out how the inhabitants sensed their immediate neighborhoods. The research questions of the study are what kind of sounds, smells, and sights surrounded urban dwellers, what kind of tasting and touching experiences they encountered, how these sensations were perceived and dealt with and how they influenced the constructions of spaces. I use a multisensory approach, but the work focuses on sensory nuisances i.e. the irritating smells and sounds, unwanted touches, the role of darkness in the use of space, and the disparity of diets. The sensations, often considered as solely physiological phenomena, are in fact deeply influenced by culture. One key element of this study is hence to find out what were the Roman cultural concepts associated with senses. Without understanding the sensory landscape of ancient societies, our knowledge of the past remains inevitably limited. My work, which uses both Latin literature and archaeological material from recent excavations, will thus be a timely contribution to the scholarship of urban and domestic space in ancient Rome.
I am a researcher in Classics, originally from the University of Helsinki. I identify myself as a social historian, who uses Latin literature and archaeological material to investigate the everyday life in ancient Roman towns. My research interests are concerned with the public/private dichotomy in ancient Roman society as well as the sensory and space studies in the urban and domestic contexts, as well as digital humanities.
Project title: Making sense(s) of Roman neighbourhoods
Area of research: Ancient history, Classical Archaeology, Classical philology
Fellowship period: 1 February 2022 - 31 January 2024