Search for Resources as an Incentive for ‘Processes of Colonisation’? Causal Research Regarding the Foundation of Roman Settlements in Italy and North Africa
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Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Institut für Klassische Archäologie
telephone: +49 7071 29 75413
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
SFB 1070 RessourcenKulturen
telephone: +49 7071 29 73582
SFB 1070 RessourcenKulturen
telephone: +49 7071 29 73582
The Roman expansion and the resulting foundation of colonies during the Republican and Augustan time lastingly changed the pre-Roman settlement structure and society in Italy and its neighbouring regions. Recent research correctly emphasised that Rome itself was only partly responsible for the process of change in the Hellenistic Mediterranean. The powerful Greek cities, like Tarentum and Syracuse, played an important role in South Italy, as did the Italic Samnites in Central Italy, or the Carthaginians in North Africa. Existing societies were absorbed in the newly founded settlements and certainly helped to shape them. But still, Rome’s actions as a part of an aggressive policy of expansion were a decisive factor for the changes of settlement systems and social structures in Italy and the neighbouring regions (North Africa). Besides the deliberate relocation of urban Romans and the granting of Roman citizenship to local Non-Romans, this resulted in the introduction of a new kind of administration.
The reasons for the spatial expansion of Rome seem obvious (military and agricultural interest), but still there was a mutual interaction with the local population related to very different resources and ResourceComplexes. Those were used deliberately and in a methodical way in order to consolidate the new rule. Cultural traditions of locals were at least partly adopted by the arriving Romans. This process can be traced at sacred places where local and Roman deities were worshipped together. This demonstrates the importance of ideologically/symbolically charged resources that determined the development of cities and settlements.
Project B04 comparatively analyses these issues with the help of two case studies in very differing regions. What is the role of resources and ResourceComplexes in the planning and development of Roman colonial cities? What were the underlying real interests? Were previous interpretations of the Roman colonisation biased towards military/strategic explanations?
Case Study Central Italy (Irpinia)
This study tries to identify in which ways the pre-Roman settlement system was used as a resource for the subsequent Roman settlement. In this region, with the beginning Romanisation during the 3rd cent. BC, it is possible to observe continuity as well as the abandonment of settlements. Settlement continuity might result from a deliberate use of resources, but this may include ‘non-economic’ (spiritual/symbolic/religious) resources. The case study combines the analysis of economic aspects (pastoralism vs. farming) but also takes cultural resources into account. Urban development, architecture, sculpture and inscriptions are shedding light on social networks and alliances that also might share responsibility for the continuation and development of Roman cities.
An excavation project at Conza della Campania was started in order to answer questions about urbanisation. The analysis of architecture, sculpture and inscriptions will be based on the results of a survey conducted from 2014 to 2016 in cooperation with Alessandro Avagliano and financially supported by the German Archaeological Institute in Rome.
Case Study North Africa
The decoration with sculptures and reliefs is a characteristic feature of Roman cities during the times of the late Roman Republic and the Empire (1st cent. BC – 2nd cent. AD). On the one hand they commemorate worthy dignitaries with statues of honour, on the other hand there is a considerable number of depictions of mythological subjects, either copies of famous Greek works of the 5th and 4th cent. BC or scholarly, eclectic creations. This phenomenon, termed ‘statue habit’ emphasises a peculiarity of urban structures during Roman times, because it started to decline from the 3rd cent. AD onward to disappear almost completely in Late Roman and Early Medieval times, even in places with a continuity of urban structures.
The main potential in researching the newly emerging statuary landscapes in Roman North Africa during the 1st cent. BC (for example in Caesarea Mauretania/Cherchel) – in contrast to Rome itself – is in analysing how depictions were used by the Roman colonists during this phase of newly constituting urban structures in order to communicate specific ideas.
In addition the general aesthetic preferences, responsible for the choice of specific depictions, are discussed. The iconographic and formal repertoire, developed since the 6th cent. BC in Greek culture, can be seen as a ResourceComplex accessible to the various patrons. Was the equipment with sculptures meant as an imitation of Rome or is it possible to identify formal principles, derived from local conventions and traditions? Or those that might be seen as features of a (sub-) Hellenistic aesthetic, developing more freely far away from the specific cultural and socio-political situation in Rome?
In southern Italy, well protected on a hill, the ancient city of Compsa is situated. Since about 2500 years ago this place was favoured for settlement activities, as can be demonstrated by archaeological finds, such as pottery, burial grounds and a forum of Roman times. Only after the city was hit by the disastrous earthquake on November 23rd 1980 the hill was abandoned and the inhabitants founded the new ‘Conza della Campania’ at its foot.
The ongoing excavations concentrate on the Samnite and Roman periods of the settlement. Step by step, the process of urbanisation in the region from the 6th century BC until Roman times will be retraced.
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