Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

The Roman urban network in the Balkan and the Danube provinces

The principle aim of the project is to study the genesis and the quantitative properties of the Early Roman urban network of the Balkan and the Danube provinces.

2013 - 2017

The study deals with the Roman towns of the Balkan Peninsula and the middle and the lower Danube. It will try to answer the following questions pertaining to the Roman towns in the study-region: 1) How and when were these urban centers founded? 2) What is their size? 3) What is the size of their administrative territory? 4)What is the size of their hinterland? 5) Which types of locations were usually chosen as urban sites? 6)What was the distribution of Roman towns in the study-area? The study is conceived of as an interesting contribution to the phenomenon of Early Roman urbanism in the Balkan provinces and as a source-book for students and scholars unfamiliar with this part of the Empire.

Broadly defined, the principle goal of the present study is to understand the formation processes of the Early Roman urban network of the Balkan and the Danube provinces and to analyze its quantitative properties. The source-material for the study of the towns in the Balkan provinces is widely scattered, difficult to collect and of an uneven quality. Therefore the first half of the project will be mostly devoted to the collection and the systematization of the published literature. In addition, we will try as much as possible to make use of primary sources, such as excavation and survey plans or aerial photographs and in certain cases, observations in the field will be made.

The focus will be on 5 or 6 parameters, some of which are quantifiable, e.g. the size of the settlements or the extent of their administrative territories. This will allow us to apply certain theoretical concepts or analytical tools that have rarely been applied on the towns of the Roman Empire and are especially lacking for the regions of the Balkan peninsula, the middle and the lower Danube. This will include rank-size analyses of the town in our integral study-region and in its separate components and estimates of the carrying capacities of the towns’ immediate hinterlands.

In addition we will try to understand the distribution of the urban centers using the principles borrowed from the Central Place Theory and related geographic approaches. This study will hopefully open an important insight into the spatial arrangements and the quantitative properties of the Early Roman urban network in our study region.

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