New: Article on the Medieval minsters of Beverley, Rippon and York, submitted by Stuart Sharp.
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These pages will look at the impact of technological innovation on the spatial layouts of Roman and medieval (European & Arabic) cities, in terms of some general themes - military technology, building materials, transport, building techniques.
The stereotypical Roman city was spacious, although enclosed by walls, with a partially planned layout reflecting a grid system. Main streets and roads were well paved and wide. The most distinctive features of the cities were monumental public areas or edifices (for water supply, entertainment, commerce, government.) The less wealthy lived in more chaotically laid out areas characterised by relatively high-rise apartment buildings (insulae).
In contrast, the European or Arabic medieval city was typically a "densely congested network of narrow winding streets, lined with high house fronts, a pattern relieved only occasionally by open squares and marketplaces." (Friedrichs, in Chant, p147) It was enclosed by a heavily fortified wall, with guarded gates and defended towers. Dominant non-military public buildings were usually religious. In the Arabic medieval cities, the layout was distinctively labyrinthine.
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