A world of villages: dispersed settlement and colonial expansion in Central-Southern Italy under the Roman Republic (c. 4th-2nd centuries BC)


This project explores the role of non-urban settlements in Roman colonial expansion in the formative phase of the Roman empire (4th-2nd centuries BC). It challenges the traditional, urban model of Roman colonies by proposing instead a distinctive, non-urban settlement organization, within which clustered sites such as villages played key-roles. Detection and analysis of such settlements have until now been minimal due to scholarly biases. Investigating the non-urban nature of colonial settlement organization is therefore a major challenge for current scholarship, and constitutes a key step for advancing the field. With an innovative approach and applying state-of-the-art science-based methods, this project investigates the non-urban settlement organization of colonies and its alleged distinctiveness in comparison to native society. This is done by 1) analyzing existing archaeological datasets of early colonial territories and comparing them to contingent non-colonial areas and 2) targeted fieldwork in selected key-sites in Central-Southern Italy. To this end, use will be made of the non-intrusive techniques of intensive field-survey, remote sensing and geophysical prospecting. The project has the potential to change current thinking on colonial contacts and the underlying power relations profoundly: it not only breaks down the present dichotomy between Roman-urban and native-non-urban models, but may ultimately lead us to rethink the common association of imperial success with urbanism. Embedding the project in the Department of Archaeology of the University of Glasgow enables the researcher to receive high-quality training in the application of the science-based prospecting techniques. Moreover, the world-leading position of the Department in theoretical research on colonisation and colonialism in antiquity allows the researcher to position his research effectively in the current international debate on the origins of Western colonisation and colonialism.

  • Status
  • Completed
  • Project Launch
  • 01 May 2011
  • Project completed
  • 30 April 2013
Promoting science Roman colonial expansion non-urban settlement organization