Nicholas Purcell

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History


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Roman cities were just like Greek cities. Rome's early urban development is a fascinating example of how new urban forms reflect social and economic change in the Iron Age Mediterranean world. Communications were vital: in this Rome was like Corinth, Carthage, or Miletus. As Rome's military ascendancy increased, it became clear that simply expanding the city-state was no longer practical. At a distance from Rome, self-organising but dependent towns were more effective; hence the many new coloniae founded during the late fourth and third centuries. Tied as closely to Rome as the earlier expansionist settlements, they inherited other features from them – allotted landscapes, and links with Rome via a growing network of roads. Roman urbanism is distinctive in its relationship to larger structures – and, above all, those of the Roman state, which meant the state's centre: the city of Rome itself. So, between 340 and 180 BCE, Rome became a single state with numerous urban centres.

Keywords: Rome; cities; urbanism; urban centres; urban development; communications; roads; city-state; social change; economic change

Article.  6589 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical History ; Ancient Roman History

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