Debate over what influenced Roman city plans has permeated the scholarly community
for decades. One hypothesis, with which I am in agreement, is that it was the Roman
castra, or military camps, that provided a source for the design of these towns. Whether
the town plans were directly based on military camp layouts, or merely adapted some of their features, Roman legionary fortresses appear to have had significant influence on city planning and construction. Researching this topic is often made difficult by later building; in some cases centuries or even millennia of building have occurred on top of the original settlements. As a consequence, scholars have conducted little in-depth research on this subject. However, by using a combination of ancient and contemporary documentary sources, I have compiled a scholarly argument for the influence of Roman military camps on town planning.
A paper prepared for the Presidential Scholars Presentation Series, April 2010. Advisors: Caroline Downing, Mary Jo McNamara, Art Department