Reuniones Científicas en el MARQ

Small towns in Roman Italy: from a diachronic to a regional perspective

Ponencia marco

Small towns in Roman Italy: from a diachronic to a regional perspective

A substantial majority of cities in Roman Italy probably can be considered as small towns. All of these circa 270 high order settlements measured less than 20 hectares and can hardly be seen as dense urban population centres. Some of them were developed and planned during the Republic as smaller Roman colonies, reflecting the larger high status colonial centres that impacted greatly on the newly conquered Italian territories. Others were transformations of indigenous centres which gradually took the appearance of their Roman role models. 

Particularly in the latest phases of the Republic and during the early Imperial period, however, widespread processes of urbanization and municipalisation created a category of cities that were both smaller, and less consistently planned. Many developed along the road system and were clustered around an Augustan era forum in the centre of an agriculturally rich river basin or settlement chamber.  The regional economy, elite competition and the needs for administrative organization were some of the main driving forces for their gradual development.  

The presentation will reveal some of the characteristics of this particular urban landscape in Italy, which shows many parallels with provincial contexts in West and East. It will focus on the recently investigated regional network of small towns in central Adriatic Italy, where urbanism studies and landscape archaeology approaches allow now a more holistic discussion of  this phenomenon. Looking at archaeological evidence from multiple small urban sites, away from the traditionally studied centres in Latium and Campania, such as Ostia and Pompeii, allows a deeper understanding of the remarkable diversity of Roman cityscapes. 

Dr. Frank Vermeulen, presidente y profesor titular del Departamento de Arqueología de la Universidad de Gante (Bélgica)