Dey, H. (2016). From “street” to “piazza”: Urban politics, public ceremony, and the redefinition of platea in communal Italy and beyond. Speculum, 91(4), 919–944.
The author finds that the term platea evolved from first century AD to fifteenth century BC along with the evolution of the Roman public sphere, from the street to the piazza. As piazzas predominated physically, socially, and politically, they became the main choice for political and ceremonial events, once meant for prominent urban thoroughfares known as plateae. The retention of the word's association with "market," an activity also held in squares, helped serve this evolution. The lack of piazzas for communal gathering space in southern Italy allowed platea's original meaning to survive for centuries longer than in north-central Italy. From the documents available, this connection is not an irrefutable fact but the best conjecture the author could make.
Description of method used in the article
The author uses historical methods, utilizing manuscripts and public documents to trace the physical and linguistic evolution of the term platea.