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Urbanism and Empire in Roman Sicily

Urbanism and Empire in Roman Sicily

Examining patterns of urban settlement and abandonment across several centuries, this book offers the first comprehensive overview of Sicily’s strategic importance to ancient Rome and broader Mediterranean-wide networks.

Series: Ashley and Peter Larkin Endowment in Greek and Roman Culture

January 2019
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320 pages | 6 x 9 | 19 b&w photos, 17 b&w maps |

Sicily has been the fulcrum of the Mediterranean throughout history. The island’s central geographical position and its status as ancient Rome’s first overseas province make it key to understanding the development of the Roman Empire. Yet Sicily’s crucial role in the empire has been largely overlooked by scholars of classical antiquity, apart from a small number of specialists in its archaeology and material culture.

Urbanism and Empire in Roman Sicily offers the first comprehensive English-language overview of the history and archaeology of Roman Sicily since R. J. A. Wilson’s Sicily under the Roman Empire (1990). Laura Pfuntner traces the development of cities and settlement networks in Sicily in order to understand the island’s political, economic, social, and cultural role in Rome’s evolving Mediterranean hegemony. She identifies and examines three main processes traceable in the archaeological record of settlement in Roman Sicily: urban disintegration, urban adaptation, and the development of alternatives to urban settlement. By expanding the scope of research on Roman Sicily beyond the bounds of the island itself, through comparative analysis of the settlement landscapes of Greece and southern Italy, and by utilizing exciting evidence from recent excavations and surveys, Pfuntner establishes a new empirical foundation for research on Roman Sicily and demonstrates the necessity of including Sicily in broader historical and archaeological studies of the Roman Empire.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Urban Abandonment in the Late Republic and Early Principate (ca. 50 BC–AD 50)
  • 2. Urban Abandonment in the High Empire (ca. AD 50–250)
  • 3. The Southwestern Coast: Economic Integration, Political Privilege, and Urban Survival
  • 4. The Northeastern Coast: Civil War and Colonization
  • 5. Eastern Sicily: From Syracusan to Roman Hegemony
  • 6. Roman Urbanism in Sicily
  • 7. New Forms of Settlement in Roman Imperial Sicily
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Belfast, United Kingdom

Pfuntner is a lecturer in ancient history at Queen’s University Belfast.


“This book makes an important contribution to the understudied topic of Roman Sicily….the book delivers on its stated intention to ground and inspire future research.”

“Scholars of ancient Sicily will be able to find numerous stimuli for further research developments, but [Urbanism and Empire in Roman Sicily] at the same time can satisfy the interests of a wider public of readers.”

“A fundamental contribution to the study of Roman Sicily within the wider context of the Roman Empire.”

“Pfuntner's work is a welcome addition to the history and archaeology of Roman Sicily, the most comprehensive treatment since [R.J.A.] Wilson's Sicily Under the Roman Empire.”
American Journal of Archaeology

“A most welcome addition to the scholarly literature on Roman Siciliy [that] treats its subject well...[Urbanism and Empire in Roman Sicily] reads well and clearly presents the evidence on which the conclusions are built. It will become a point of departure for any reader wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the complex processes behind changes in settlement patterns in Roman Sicily.”
The Classical Review

“[Urbanism and Empire in Roman Sicily] marvelously illustrates how settlements in Sicily changed in form and function over time in response to local and distant circumstances, and it ought to inspire similar studies of other regions...a well-conceived and well-executed monograph...Beyond the significant progress it represents in the field of Sicilian history and archaeology, perhaps Urbanism and Empire holds valuable lessons for us too, wherever our homes currently lie on the urbanism spectrum.”
Classical Philology

“A rich and detailed study…[Pfuntner paints] an insightful and convincing picture of the complex interplay between political, social, economic, and cultural changes that Roman rule brought to the fore...This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the interplay between Roman urbanism and rural settlements.”
American Historical Review


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3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca