Fores et fenestrae. A computational study of doors and windows in Roman domestic space
Until very recently the role of doors and windows in shaping the life and structure of Roman private dwellings has been highly underestimated. The reason for this lies primarily in the difficulties linked to their study. The low level of preservation of walls and the widespread use of perishable and recyclable materials hinder in many cases a correct assessment of these structures. This thesis aims to analyse Roman doors and windows and their role as an essential part of daily life. They are the structures that connect not only rooms but the houses to the outside world. They relate to privacy, security and light in domestic spaces. To achieve this greater understanding, a computational approach has been followed. The two cores of the research are the analysis of the database and the observation of results based on new 3D models. 1,855 doors and windows have been surveyed across eight towns of Roman imperial Italy. The information collected has been organised in a database comprised of nine tables and mined through statistical analyses. Three 3D models of three different types of dwellings have been generated simulating realistic materials and light conditions to observe the role of doors and windows in context. The thesis is subdivided into four sections. The first one explains the methodology used during the study and analyses the previous scholarship available on the topic, highlighting how the issue of doors and windows has often be ignored or only superficially considered. The second section collects the typologies of complementary sources needed to comprehend the result of the statistical analyses better and to integrate the 3D models; literary, epigraphic, and visual sources are considered. To these, the analysis of the complementary archaeological sources has been added. The third section of the thesis examines the case studies analysed and assesses the housing units’ subdivision within the single dwellings. The fourth part enters the core of the analysis. It is composed of two chapters, the first of which provides a detailed overview of the statistics analyses produced on the sample collected. The latter chapter investigates the results of the renders and analyses views and natural light in the Roman house. The analysis undertaken shows the importance that doors and windows have on the organisation of private dwellings. Considering the general darkness of the Roman house, the sizes and location of these features influence the life within the different areas of the abodes. By controlling the levels of light in the house, these structures can regulate the activities and generate preferential paths through houses. Furthermore, the possibility of equipping windows with glazed panels, from the late first century AD, had a significant influence on changing the outlook of the Roman house, allowing bigger windows to be built facing the public street, opening up, therefore, dwellings towards the outside. Finally, doors and windows present a high level of standardisation and correlation between their sizes, testifying, on one side, to an interconnection between the two structures, and, on the other, the presence of a shared idea on how doors and windows should look.