Ancient Schoemehl Pots, Pompeii, Italy

I had the opportunity to visit the ruins of Pompeii on my trip to Naples, and it is interesting to walk a city that was basically 100% pedestrian friendly. The Romans had ingenious ways of making the pedestrian’s travel around the city safe and pleasant.

The ancient Romans understood the importance of traffic calming devices, and the safe movement of people across major streets. These two types of speed bumps served two purposes. The stones above allowed pedestrians to walk across the street, avoiding any rainwater or garbage that might have accumulated during the day. For the most part, Roman cities had sanitation not recreated until the 20th Century, so there wasn’t a huge amount of garbage to walk around. Secondly, the “beever teeth” prevented chariots (not really very common in Roman society) and wagons from going too fast down the street. In fact, for the most part wheeled vehicles were banned from the streets during the day. Deliveries were made at night. Below is a second kind of traffic calming device in the city gate where drivers would have been forced to slow down.

It’s funny, but these ancient stones remind me of the Schoemehl pots blocking streets all over St. Louis, and in particular, they remind of the new balls in Forest Park Southeast. The only critical difference is that the Romans didn’t create dead zones with theirs.

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