In any debate on new construction in our urban centres you are likely to hear phrases like sustainable urban planning, adaptive reuse and recycling heritage – so much so that anyone would be forgiven for thinking that these were modern concerns.
However, these principles have a long history in the ancient world. Anywhere permanent materials such as marble and granite were used to build monuments and infrastructure, recycling and reuse followed.
The ancient Roman world is littered with examples of architectural recycling. Under the banner spolia studies, archaeologists and art historians have increasingly focused attention on the hows and whys of reuse in antiquity.