Book Review: The Fortifications of Pompeii and Ancient Italy


by Ivo Van der Graaff

New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. xvi, 284+. Illus., maps, plans, gloss., notes, biblio., index. $150.00. ISBN: 1472477162

Defending the Ancient City

Founded probably in the Sixth Century BC, Pompeii, like most ancient cities, was fortified, and the defenses were maintained, upgraded, and extended over the centuries, during which the city experienced several sieges. These defenses were buried along with the rest of the city in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79.

Prof. Van de Graaff (New Hampshire Durham), gives us a thorough look at the nature and evolution of these defenses, and also considers them within the framework of their “cultural matrix”. So he not only lets us see what the walls and outworks did for the defense of Pompeii, but also the role they played in the life of the city, as a symbol of civic pride, demonstrating its wealth and power, and promoting a sense of community. This also allows us to how changes in the city’s social, political, and cultural life were reflected in the ways in which the defenses evolved. And, of course, in the process of throwing light on the defenses and society of Pompeii, we also get some idea of the ways in which fortifications affected and were affected by the social life of other cities in the period and region, for most of which we have much less well-preserved evidence.

The Fortifications of Pompeii and Ancient Italy is a valuable read for anyone interested in the history of ancient Italy or in that of fortification and urban planning and the architectural influences on culture and society.


Note: The Fortifications of Pompeii and Ancient Italy is also available in several e-editions

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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