CITY PLANNING IN GRAECO-ROMAN TIMES WITH EMPHASIS ON HEALTH FACILITIES

L. Cilliers, F.P. Retief

Abstract


In this overview of city planning in Graeco-Roman times, starting with Greek gridiron street planning and functional city zoning in the 9th century BC, emphasis is placed on those aspects related to urban health and recreational activities. Etruscan-Roman expertise in hydraulic engineering facilitated the availability of ample water supplies, e.g. for public baths and latrines, and for efficient drainage systems, which had been problematic in the earlier Greek era. The Pax Romana obviated the need for defensive city walls and also potentiated the establishment and maintenance of long distance water supplies. Before the xenodocheia of the Christian era the only hospitals were Roman military institutions (valetudinaria) and some latifundia for sick slaves on large farms. Doctors practiced from very basic consulting facilities (iatreia, later tabernae). Graeco-Roman concepts of “death pollution” restricted structural burial facilities to a minimum, and situated outside the city walls. Greek recreation revolved around athletic sports practiced in stadia, gymnasia and occasionally in urban agoras; dramas were performed in open air theatres. The Romans preferred horse races and blood-thirsty sports in huge amphitheatres in which gladiators fought each other to the death.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/51-0-62

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ISSN 2079-2883 (online); ISSN 0303-1896 (print)

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