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CRASIS Annual Lecture: Monika Trümper, ‘Morgantina under Roman Rule: a City in Crisis?’

When:Fr 06-02-2015 17:15 - 18:15
Where:Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (Oude Boteringestraat 38), Courtroom
Agora in Morgantina, northern part: Macellum (built in early 2nd c BC)
Agora in Morgantina, northern part: Macellum (built in early 2nd c BC)

The Sicilian city of Morgantina saw its heyday in the 3rd century BC, which is reflected in a significant urban development and building boom. A large agora, a theater several sanctuaries, two public baths, and many lavish houses were built, as revealed by the American Excavations at Morgantina since 1955. In 211 BC, Morgantina was captured by the Romans and given to Spanish mercenaries. While for a long time, this conquest has been reconstructed as a catastrophic event with dramatic consequences for the city, entailing a complete exchange of its population and a major decline and reduction in size, recent research has begun to revise the notion of collapse and crisis.

This paper reassesses the urban landscape and socio-historical context of Morgantina after 211 BC, based on fieldwork (South Baths and West Sanctuary Project 2013/2014; http://morgantina.org/ ) and on a synthesis of recent published research, and with a focus on methodological questions. Selected areas, among them the recently excavated baths and sanctuary, the agora and domestic architecture, will be analyzed, focusing on significant changes in architecture, function, and users after 211 BC. While the general notion of regression is not challenged, a more nuanced picture is presented of which parts of the city were reused and how. By reevaluating post-211 BC Morgantina, this paper also contributes to current trends in research that adopt a much more differentiated approach to Sicily under Roman rule, challenging long-held ideas of decline and insignificance of Rome’s very first province.

Monika Trümper ’s career has been characterised by diversity from its very beginning, as she combined her studies in Classical Archaeology, Art History and Ancient History in Cologne, Munich and Paris with a Master degree in Music (violin) at the University of Cologne. After completing her PhD on the domestic culture of Hellenistic Delos in München (even while continuing to give violin classes), she pursued an international career with academic appointments at the universities of Heidelberg, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and North Carolina, and currently as Professor of Classical Archaeology at the Freie Universität of Berlin. She has published extensively on domestic culture, the archaeology of Delos, Graeco-Roman bathing culture, questions of identity, gender and public space, and various other aspects of architecture, urbanism and settlement archaeology. As co-director of the excavations of Morgantina on Sicily, her current research focuses on the Greek baths and the sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone. These excavations, which provide a new perspective on the supposed decline of Sicily’s prosperity and significance under Roman rule, have also provided the inspiration for the Keynote Lecture of our Annual Meeting.