Skip to main content

Acoustics of Roman Ostia: Aural Architecture, Noise and Urban Space in the Second Century CE

Veitch, Jeffrey D. (2017) Acoustics of Roman Ostia: Aural Architecture, Noise and Urban Space in the Second Century CE. Master of Philosophy (MPhil) thesis, University of Kent. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

Restricted to Repository staff only until September 2020.
Contact us about this Publication Download (17MB)
Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication Download (37MB)


This thesis introduces a methodology for the acoustic analysis of Roman urban space, through an in-depth study of Ostia Antica. The archaeological site of Ostia offers the opportunity to analyse the acoustic effects of second century CE building techniques in a variety of spaces. The acoustic analyses introduced are the first application of a quantitative and qualitative sensory study approach to Roman urban space. The original approach draws on digital humanities tools in combination with traditional archaeological site analyses in the interpretation of noise and acoustics. The thesis is developed in three main parts. First, an exploration of the Roman literary sources through a digital humanities approach, which contextualises the literary urban image of noise in Rome. Noise was a key element in the social perception of urban space. The Latin literary sources display an urban image of noise, especially noise relating to movement. This concern did not manifest itself in legal control of noise, but instead relied on social stigma and moral judgements. Second, an acoustic model was developed and analysed some of the primary building types and streets in second century CE Ostia. Sound isolation was only possible in certain places, a product of other construction techniques and design choices. Third, a social historical investigation of the everyday rhythms of work, which were the background noise of Ostia, was undertaken to develop an approach to urban divisions of space not visible in architecture. These three parts are grounded in spatial and social theory, drawing on work from urban geography and sensory studies. This thesis shows the importance of acoustic analysis in understanding Roman architecture and urbanism in the second century CE. It develops an original approach to modelling and analysing architecture through acoustics. The application of such a model to the urban arrangement and layout of a Roman site has not been undertaken before. This thesis, therefore, forms an original contribution to the field of classical archaeology through the implementation and interpretation of acoustic modelling of partially preserved buildings, as well as the models application to the urban arrangement of second century CE Ostia.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Philosophy (MPhil))
Thesis advisor: Laurence, Ray
Thesis advisor: Lavan, Luke A.
Uncontrolled keywords: Rome Ostia acoustics urbanspace noise Romanhistory
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Classical and Archaeological Studies
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2018 16:26 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 20:57 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year