Lecture 1/5: Urban networks in the Roman Near East: Lines of enquiry

UrbNet Residential Scholar (Autumn 2017): Rubina Raja. Lecture series: The dynamics of urban networks in the Near East, 1st century CE–8th century CE.

2017.08.11 | Julie Thomsen Raunstrup

Date Mon 02 Oct
Time 13:15 14:15
Location Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) Aarhus University Moesgård Allé 20, DK-8270 Højbjerg Denmark Building 4230-232

Outline: The Near East was already in Antiquity a densely urbanised region spanning extremely diverse cultures and geographical situations. At several points in time, the region stood at the centre of political upheaval, military campaigns and religious unrest, which reached far beyond the region itself and impacted the ancient world. In the time of the Roman Empire, the Near East was pivotal as a buffer and connection zone between the core regions of the Empire and the East. The broad variety of the pluralistic religious life of the region often clashed with monotheistic religions, which had their cradle in the region.

Judaism, centred in the coastal region of Judaea, became the reason for harsh conflicts with the Roman rulers, which in turn impacted the way in which much of the region was ruled under Rome. With of the rise of Christianity, the region became the stage for the development of what became a world religion. In the 7th century CE, the Arab invasion and the introduction of Islam to the region, made its impact – however, often in ways, which did not lead to as sudden changes in the material culture as often communicated.

As a backdrop for all these developments, cultural, religious and political, stood the cities, the urban sites, which functioned as drivers and catalysts for continuity as well as change. These were most prominently signified by urban plans and public monuments. Whereas much research has been done on the structure and development of urban sites over time, less attention has been paid to material groups, which tell us about the dynamics and nature of the networks, which took place both within sites and between them.

This series of five lectures will therefore focus on the nature of urban network dynamics in the Near East over a stretch of eight centuries, focussing, on the one hand, on the broad lines of enquiry into ways in which we may tease out the role cities and their networks played in this entangled region and, on the other hand, on examples of material groups that give insight into choices made by local societies and the potential reasons behind.


More information about the lecture series here.

Lecture/talk, History and archaeology