Back to School

Oh dear.  I’ve been away from the blog for so long that I feel I should mark my return with something stupendously interesting. Truth is, the Coursera Roman Architecture course* threw up all sorts of fascinating things but I was so busy keeping up with the lectures that there was no time to post them.

I’ll be doing some updating of the blog after Crimefest this weekend and an evening at New Malden Library next Tuesday (20th May) with William Ryan and Imogen Robertson. Meanwhile, here’s what I’ve been doing instead.

One of the challenges of the course was to “Design your own Roman city”. It could be anywhere, as long as you could produce a reasonable excuse for putting it there. After much dithering, I took the coward’s way out and chose… Britannia. Some of the students designed fabulous virtual cities using computer software. Some of us went back to school and brought out the crayons.

So, friends, with apologies for the artwork, let me welcome you to the fair city of Salus Hadrianopolis, the attempt of a grovelling and implausibly wealthy tribal leader to welcome Hadrian to these fair shores. Sadly, it was never built. That’s just as well because I now realise the town sewer flows uphill. 

Design of fictional Roman city

There really were Roman town plans something (not much) like this. We still have fragments of a massive marble plan of the whole city of Rome. It’s called the Forma Urbis and you can read all about it here.

* the course is finished but the lectures are still on YouTube and iTunes via Open Yale Courses. I can’t recommend them highly enough.







9 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. Hmmm. Bet we can guess where Tilla and Ruso would be staying. A bit of a walk to the baths, but the smell of the leather might help the taste of her “cooking”.

    Eagerly awaiting your next book.

  2. There have been a number of Roman-city-building computer games, which you can find mentioned on the Web. I can’t say how good they are as games or as history, as I haven’t happened to try any of them. It is possible in theory that such a game could be historically authentic without achieving major success as a game—or, indeed, that it could achieve success as a game without being historically authentic.

    1. I haven’t tried any of them either, Jonathan. Largely because I’m a recovering addict of Sim City, and know the depths of joyous timewasting to which I can sink. Even I don’t think it could be called ‘research’ for long.

      1. Ah, yes, I have tried SimCity in the past, but didn’t become addicted. I’m currently playing a game called Crusader Kings II, which gives an interesting experience of history in the period 1066 to 1453 AD; but of course this isn’t your period, and it isn’t a SimCity type of game. Cities are built and developed in the course of it, but not in any detail.

        My concept of a game is a brief diversion that might take half an hour to a couple of hours; but unfortunately many computer games are life-eaters and go on for ages. This is evidently the Age of Leisure, at least for some.

      1. Bless you for this! I had forgotten (although I have been there) even that it was under the auspices of English Heritage. Very useful.

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