Rome as the first-ever mega-city reaching c. 1 million inhabitants in the early empire (1st cent. BCE), remains an enigma regarding the way it organised itself and maintained that size for over three centuries. Having long outgrown the 4th-century BCE city walls, the urbanistic structures that developed outside of these, and especially outside the late Aurelian Wall, have never been studied holistically in a systematic way. Considering that the built environment in any city both shapes and is being shaped by the everyday lives of those inhabiting and using it, we are missing out on some crucial evidence for understanding how Rome’s society worked.

IN-ROME aims to fill this gap. It will describe how different parts of the population (ethnicities, status groups, genders) and their varied activities map onto the city’s surroundings via military stations, association seats, sanctuaries, production sites, mines, infrastructure, agriculture, retail, baths, guesthouses, tombs, houses, and villas, to name but the most obvious. It will essentially ask: Who was doing what where? Translating topographical relations into social ones, it aims significantly to enhance our understanding of the city’s social fabric beyond what literary sources tell us.

Methodologically, IN-ROME unlocks the enormous potential of inscriptions for our understanding of Rome’s urban development and social fabric through virtual re-contextualisation and statistical analysis. The authoritative Epigraphic Database Roma is being extended to include all Latin and Greek inscriptions with known or probable provenance (totalling c. 50,000). These inscriptions will be linked to Rome’s most sophisticated Digital Archaeological Cadastre, SITAR, via a newly created map layer of 17th-20th-cent. properties and toponyms (the main historic reference to location).

These new resources will allow the exploration of topographical patterns of activities on an unprecedented scale, providing access to a vast pool of historic information and restoring Rome’s people back into their landscape.