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Abstract

The effects of Roman rule in mainland Greece are typically sought out in the countryside, often in terms of depopulation and economic decline, rather than within the urban realm of the elite, where social continuity is emphasized. This dichotomy, problematic on its own terms, masks the ways in which Roman rule affected political identity (founded as it was on land ownership and the idea that a polis’ chora was the exclusive resource of its citizenry), as well as the social structures of agricultural production and civic administration founded thereupon. This dissertation therefore highlights the interconnected nature of urban and rural life in Roman Greece (from the second century BC through the Antonine dynasty). Chapter 1 charts the rise of suburban communities as areas of social display, political activity, and agricultural production—much like the suburbium of Rome itself. By reinterpreting archaeological survey materials as proxies for social and agricultural investment, this chapter shows that in the Roman period “elite” artifacts become more concentrated in suburban nodes of regional connectivity, while the material proxies of agricultural investment remain roughly consistent from the late Classical through Roman periods. Chapter 2 investigates patterns in land tenure and agricultural tenancy, arguing that interrelated changes in labor strategies and elite social behaviors increasingly tied landowners and rural workers into a more vertically integrated provincial hierarchy. Chapter 3 studies the well-documented colonia of Corinth as a representative example of the relationships between metropoleis and their chorai during the Roman period, illuminating the vertical social relationships that structured Corinthian society from urban center to rural periphery. Chapter 4 looks at the role of rural nostalgia in conceptually framing the new provincial landscape—including its urban, suburban, and rural communities—as part of a coherent imperial whole. This dissertation thereby argues that, while rural depopulation was likely negligible and high levels of agricultural production continued without serious interruption, Roman rule did indeed usher in significant changes to the social landscape of Greece.

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