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The Seven Hills of Rome: A Geological Tour of the Eternal City Hardcover – July 25, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


"A detailed description."--Ingrid Rowland, New York Review of Books

"Rome we know as a museum of empires and faiths, architecture and art collections: this fascinating little book shows how it may be a museum of the earth as well."--Greg Woolf, Times Literary Supplement

"This is a truly unusual book of great interest to amateur geologists, historians, and travelers."--Library Journal

"A very interesting book on the geology of Rome and how that geology has strongly influenced the city's geography, history, economics, and culture since its earliest settlement."--Choice

"This is a book of delights. A volcanologist and two geologists unpick the fabric of Rome, from its roots of silts and gravels overlain by volcanic flows to the summits of the seven hills."--Maggie McDonald, New Scientist

"Now here's a tourist guide to Rome with a difference. . . .This isn't just a guide. The authors have also set out to awaken people to Rome's geological framework in the hope of making the city itself more sustainable."--Sarah Barnett, Geographical Magazine

"This fascinating and easy-to-read guidebook shows how the geography and geology of Rome allowed it to grow into the great center of civilization that it became. . . . This book is for travelers and readers interested in both history and geology."--Science News

"The writing in this joint Italian-American volume is delightfully clear, and the book is full of helpful illustrations."--Ron Smith, Georgia Review

From the Inside Flap

"This is the only book I'm aware of that fully integrates the culture and history of a city into its geographical and geological setting. Written by three experts in volcanology and in the geology, culture, and history of Rome, the book has much to offer both the general public and professional city planners. The field trips featured provide guidelines that can be effectively applied to other urban settings, and the book provides good sources for further reading and research."--Ian MacGregor, retired Director, Earth Science Division of the National Science Foundation

"It is most fitting that this book, the first of its kind, should be published on Rome, the most fascinating, ancient--but currently thriving--city in the world. The Seven Hills of Rome covers more history and geology than any other travel book I have read, and it draws readers in by helping them understand how the benefits of geographical structure play out in everyday life; for example, the authors demonstrate that the golden wines from the Alban Hills are the result of vineyards located on the tuff plateaus or in crater bottoms. Throughout the book, the reader feels part of a very personal journey through the countryside."--Jill Andrews, California Institute of Technology

"The greatest virtue of The Seven Hills of Rome is that it ties the city's human history to its natural history. Now nonspecialists can fully appreciate the extent to which Rome's destiny, its character, even its very appearance, were founded on its unique geological circumstances."--Rabun Taylor, Harvard University

"Part guidebook, part scholarly resource, all fascinating story, The Seven Hills of Rome weaves together the complex geology and history of Rome's unique locale. The book is throughout a revelation--one that not only illuminates the study of the city's past, but nurtures an appreciation of its present and a concern for its future."--Susan E. Alcock, University of Michigan

"This book is not a typical geological guidebook: it tackles a geology that is largely hidden in an area that has been urban for almost three millennia. As such it is great fun--a treasure hunt in which the reader is invited to piece together the evolution of Rome as part of the Adrian microplate as well as of Rome the city. From temples and quarries to floods, earthquakes and eruptions, all is here. Well researched and never dull, this book offers a brand new insight into an ancient city."--Ruth Siddall, University College, London

"The authors use their expertise to explain how the landscape and natural resources of the region around Rome made it an inviting place for human habitation, and served as inspirations for Romans' achievements in civil engineering, architecture, and construction. The walking tours featured in the book constitute an insider's travel guide, and the chapters on the seven hills are highly evocative and will please the armchair traveler."--Gail Mahood, Stanford University


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691069956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691069951
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,196,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By arzewski on October 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Original in many ways, it offers the accomplished tourist with an enrichment from a perspective that other guidebooks do not offer. Much has to be said about the materials of construction used for the Servian Walls, the bases of temples and columns, the marble columns of churches, the flooring of streets, roads, and churches. It exposes the source location of such building materials, its use, and the effect of its use through out the ages.

Sure, the photographs are not of first quality, but for a paperback of $15, they are good enough (pushing for color would have doubled the book price). Yet, some of the photographs are original, like the ones at the quarries. Also, the sinkhole diagrams are original, not even the local newspaper graphics department thought of that.

The author could have mentioned some other interesting facts (but didn't), like the Justice Department building ("Palazzaccio"), built with heavy travertine stone on a clay foundation, and the 1980 earthquake in Southern Italy which had a muffled effect in Rome due to the clay foundation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter S. Saucier on January 7, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not a travelogue for the scientifically uninitiated. If you have studied geology and enjoy the interplay with Roman history, it is terrific. Well done for a work that marries social studies with science. For example, you gain a different view of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva when you take the Tiber floods into account as explained in this book. This is not a beach read with flowing prose, it is a compelling piece for those who treasure deeper knowledge. The romance of this book is not found in grandiloquent vocabulary, but in the profundity of understanding.
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12 of 20 people found the following review helpful By noman on May 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This should have been a wonderful book.

Instead it deeply flawed by very bad writing.

The narrative is about as exciting as a glass

of cold spit and the sentence construction

reads as if it came from the pen of a sixth

grader who slept through English class.

On top of an impenetrable writing style the many

photographs are all black and white, even when

colour photographs or art work would have

been better (the line draws are wonderful for

the most part, clearly showing essential


The photographs further suffer

from poor quality/composition. For example

the photo’s on page 6, 8 and 9 showing the

Trevi Fountain at different scales are useless

without a magnifying glass, and a photo

interpreter’s loop would be even better.

Page 57 shows a sink hole that could be

from any part of the world and simply takes

up space to no real effect. Again and again

the photographs either add nothing to the

readers ability to understand the narrative or

indeed take away from the book.

1) page 91, the “church of San Vitate”

according to the legend it’s surrounded

by “debris. . .accumulated since medieval times”

But from the picture it looks like a fast food

restaurant under construction.

2) page 93, a picture of “Monte Testaccio”

which shows a grassy mound with bits of crumbling

masonry and a fence that could be Monte Testaccio

or could be a grassy mound in NJ.
Read more ›
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