The Roman Principia as a Roman Temple: An Exploration of Spatial, Temporal, and Personnel Similarities
thesisposted on 27.05.2020, 00:00 by Gavin Heady
The ancient Roman fort is a foreign structure in many of our minds. We often associate it with current military camps, thinking that the social purpose of the camp was geared solely toward war. Contemporary military camps have designated holy areas, but all other buildings are secular in nature. The Roman fort, on the other hand, did not separate its war effort from its religious worship; instead the command building, the principia, that deliberates orders and controls the fort, simultaneously used its space for both religious and military purposes. Most of the constituent parts of the modern camp have equivalents to the Roman fort, but these buildings’ connotations are most assuredly different from one another. This occurs, in part, because contemporary interpretations of the ancient world often lack the original social context of the building, which is the result of a strictly spatial interpretation of the space. A spatial analysis alone provides little context in understanding the Roman fort, which necessitates the use of other analyses to better understand these ancient structures. One building in particular, the principia, facilitated religious events unlike its contemporary counterparts. Instead, the ancient Roman temple provides a more adequate comparison. The internal structure of the temple and principia have spatial similarities with one another, and further, they share temporal and social characteristics that parallel the utilization of space. In exploring this intersection between these three variables, a dynamic use of space, time, and personnel, we find that the principia operated more like an ancient temple rather than a contemporary military camp.