The multivalency of sensory artefacts in the city of Rome

Betts, Eleanor (2017). The multivalency of sensory artefacts in the city of Rome. In: Betts, Eleanor ed. Senses of the Empire: Multisensory Approaches to Roman Culture. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 23–38.



This chapter explores the extent to which phenomenology can be used to recover the sensory properties of Roman urban landscapes and material culture, and how these were experienced, with a focus on the embodied interrelationships of people, objects and places in ancient Rome. Sensory studies of Roman urban spaces and places give us a more complete understanding of lived experience, the social rhythms of the city and aspects of everyday life. The approach taken in the chapter is to focus on the sensations effected by sensory stimuli rather than on human emotional and intellectual perceptions, with the overall aim of increasing our understanding of social interactions in ancient Rome. Sensory artefacts are best reconstructed from material culture, and sites such as Pompeii and Vindolanda offer a wealth of artefacts for analysis. The chapter presents an example of text mining for sensory artefacts.

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