City Walls in Late Antiquity: An Empire-wide Perspective [Hardback]

Emanuele Intagliata (Editor); Christopher Courault (Editor); Simon J. Barker (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789253641 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2020 | Language: English 200p, H280 x W216 (mm) b/w and colour

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City Walls in Late Antiquity


The construction of urban defences was one of the hallmarks of the late Roman and late-antique periods (300–600 AD) throughout the western and eastern empire. City walls were the most significant construction projects of their time and they redefined the urban landscape. Their appearance and monumental scale, as well as the cost of labour and material, are easily comparable to projects from the High Empire; however, urban circuits provided late-antique towns with a new means of self-representation. While their final appearance and construction techniques varied greatly, the cost involved and the dramatic impact that such projects had on the urban topography of late-antique cities mark city walls as one of the most important urban initiatives of the period.

To-date, research on city walls in the two halves of the empire has highlighted chronological and regional variations, enabling scholars to rethink how and why urban circuits were built and functioned in Late Antiquity. Although these developments have made a significant contribution to the understanding of late-antique city walls, studies are often concerned with one single monument/small group of monuments or a particular region, and the issues raised do not usually lead to a broader perspective, creating an artificial divide between east and west. It is this broader understanding that this book seeks to provide.

The volume and its contributions arise from a conference held at the British School at Rome and the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome on June 20-21, 2018. It includes articles from world-leading experts in late-antique history and archaeology and is based around important themes that emerged at the conference, such as construction, spolia-use, late-antique architecture, culture and urbanism, empire-wide changes in Late Antiquity, and the perception of this practice by local inhabitants.

Table of Contents

Emanuele E. Intagliata, Simon J. Barker, and Christopher Courault
1. Approaching late-antique city walls through an Empire-wide perspective
Emanuele E. Intagliata, Christopher Courault and Simon J. Barker
Section A. Regional trends.
2. Late Roman city walls in Hispania. A reappraisal
Carmen Fernández-Ochoa and Angel Morillo
3. The City Walls of Lusitania revisited: a current perspective
Adriaan De Man
4. Late Roman city walls in Gaul: urban monuments or state installations?
Simon Esmonde Cleary
5. The late Roman city walls in southern Gaul
Marc Heijmans
Section B. City walls in old and new capitals.
6. Power and Glory: ceremonial gates in Constantinople and the Balkans: prototypes and legacy
James Crow
7. An exceptional city wall? Re-thinking the fortifications of Nicaea in an empire-wide context
Ayşe Dalyancı-Berns
8. Defending a New Capital: Ravenna, Classe, and the Revival of the Construction Industry in Late Antiquity
J. Riley Snyder
Section C. Case studies: West and East.
9. Dismantling, re-carving and re-using: some observations about the late antique city wall of Agedincum
Pierre-Antoine Lamy and Mathieu Ribolet
10. A statement on the late antique city walls of Córdoba
Christopher Courault
11. The Wall Circuit of Segni in Late Antiquity: Urban and Topographic Issues
Francesco Maria Cifarelli and Federica Colaiacomo
12. The revivification of earthen outworks in the late Eastern Empire: the case study of Resafa/Syria
Catharine Hof
13. The fortifications of Zenobia reinterpreted
Sylvie Blétry
Section D. The afterlife of city walls.
14. Disuse, re-use, and misuse of the early Byzantine fortress at Isthmia
Jon Frey
15. Popes, senators, barons, and popes again: the Aurelian Wall from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries
Hendrik Dey

Reviews & Quotes

"Altogether this volume makes a most useful supplement to Hof’s study of the Late Antique city wall of Resafa."
Richard Tomlinson
Ancient West & East (23/01/2023)

"This book stands at the beginning of a new line of empire-wide research into late antique city walls."
Claire Nesbitt

"It provides up-to-date case studies and a look beyond single sites. […] Readers will find much across this very well-illustrated volume to delight and please them. "
Ray Laurence
Current World Archaeology

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