The Roman rural exceptionality thesis revisited

Pelgrom, J., 2018, In : Mélanges de l'École française de Rome - Antiquité. 130, 1

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This paper critically examines the long-standing view that Roman rural organization differed fundamentally from that of the other polities of central-southern Italy, and that this difference somehow explains Roman imperial success. First, the intellectual history of this paradigm is examined, focusing especially on 19th century socio-evolutionary theory and on the role of landscape archaeology in the period following WWII. Then, recent archaeological studies on settlement dynamics and land division practices in ancient Italy are discussed. In light of these results, this paper proposes an alternative understanding of Roman-Italic rural development and land division practices and as such also questions the ancient topos which associates Roman imperial success with a specific form of peasant culture.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMélanges de l'École française de Rome - Antiquité
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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