Roman housing (The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, 2009, February)
The term “Roman housing” can encompass many kinds of living spaces. Poorly built and maintained tower blocks in cities known as insulae housed the lower echelons of society in hazardous and overcrowded conditions. In the countryside, the poor lived in small villages or farms, in stone-built structures. The exploitation by the elite of hired and slave labor in agricultural endeavours and animal husbandry provides a more unusual category of Roman housing—rooms within industrial complexes such as olive oil factories, where a workforce lived during the production season. At the other extreme of the social scale, the elite had their impressive townhouses, and usually in addition their large villas or rural retreats with expansive floor plans, numerous entertainment spaces, and rich marble decoration, reflecting the importance for the elite of the domestic space for the creation of their public persona. Read through this article to learn more.