An architectural investigation of leisure spaces in the roman domestic context: the case of Ephesus

Çinici, Ahmet
Leisure is most basically defined as “the time free from work”. The ancient conception and forms of leisure were quite different from the modern ones, which came into discussion during the industrial era. The Roman society was highly stratified and comprised of diverse social classes for which leisure acquired different forms and meanings. Every stratum of the Roman society enjoyed the possibilities and pleasures of leisure proportional to its hierarchy in the social system, so that leisure can be investigated in both public and private contexts in the Roman world. This study aims to investigate “leisure”, which was one of the main driving social forces in the Roman society, in spatial terms with reference to Roman domestic architecture. The study focuses on central Italy and particularly on Ephesus, the latter of which is a good example to discuss how the Roman conception of leisure was spatially materialized in a provincial private setting since a group of well studied, documented, and published houses constitute an appropriate comparative sample and context in Ephesus. The spatial organization and characteristics of the spaces housing leisurely activities are discussed on the basis of an “axes-scheme” that regulated and even dictated the visual and bodily interaction of the participants with certain spaces and elements during leisure activities either in a static state (sitting, reclining), or a kinetic one (walking, perambulating). The “visual axes” are those perceived in either of these states, along which the eye is directed towards a visual focal point, whereas the “dynamic axes” are those along which people move during a kinetic leisurely activity. The location, architecture, and use of leisure-oriented spaces in the Roman period houses in Ephesus, such as triclinium, exedra, oecus, museion, and peristyle courtyard are examined with reference to the proposed axes-scheme to present and compare the operation of leisure in the Roman provincial and private setting.


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Citation Formats
A. Çinici, “An architectural investigation of leisure spaces in the roman domestic context: the case of Ephesus,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2006.