City Walls in Late Antiquity: An empire-wide perspective

October 31, 2020
City Walls in Late Antiquity: An empire-wide perspective

The construction of urban defences was one of the hallmarks ofthe late Roman and late-antique periods (300–600 AD) throughout thewestern and eastern empire. City walls were the most significantconstruction projects of their time and they redefined the urbanlandscape. Their appearance and monumental scale, as well as thecost of labour and material, are easily comparable to projects fromthe High Empire; however, urban circuits provided late-antiquetowns with a new means of self-representation. While their finalappearance and construction techniques varied greatly, the costinvolved and the dramatic impact that such projects had on theurban topography of late-antique cities mark city walls as one ofthe most important urban initiatives of the period.To-date, research on city walls in the two halves of the empire hashighlighted chronological and regional variations, enablingscholars to rethink how and why urban circuits were built andfunctioned in Late Antiquity. Although these developments have madea significant contribution to the understanding of late-antiquecity walls, studies are often concerned with one singlemonument/small group of monuments or a particular region, and theissues raised do not usually lead to a broader perspective,creating an artificial divide between east and west. It is thisbroader understanding that this book seeks to provide.The volume and its contributions arise from a conference held atthe British School at Rome and the Swedish Institute of ClassicalStudies in Rome on June 20-21, 2018. It includes articles fromworld-leading experts in late-antique history and archaeology andis 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, andthe perception of this practice by local inhabitants.