Filling the Gap: Investigating Abandonment in the Roman Empire

Organisers: Rocco Palermo (Università di Napoli Federico II), Maria Amodio (Università di Catania), Raffaella Pappalardo (Università di Napoli Federico II), Paolo Cimadomo (Università di Napoli Federico II), Raffaella Pierobon (Università di Napoli Federico II)
This session takes place on Friday, 18 March 2016 from 14:00-18:00
This session was originally scheduled for Friday morning, but will now take place on Friday afternoon.

From the frontier areas to the rural zones the impact of Rome sensibly modified the cultural, geographical and human landscape, causing abandonment, re-population and demographic decrease in several zones of the Empire also creating turning points accordingly. Political and social crisis, environmental causes, and natural disasters led to abandonment in several cases.

Both large centres and rural areas were involved in these processes. Urban centres usually show traces of re-occupation after a short/long abandonment period (architectural and functional reconfiguration and spaces adaptation), whereas the same impact on the rural zones is less evident. This includes a reduction in number of settlements, the abandonment of natural resource exploitation areas and, occasionally, a different type of re-occupation (squatter installations, nomadic evidence, local impulses). Such processes possibly influenced material culture, whose reliability might be also used for the understanding of social dynamics related to the lack of power in specific areas.

The aim of the session is to define a model for the understanding of abandonment through the analysis of the archaeological record. This includes the response of specific areas to imperial abandonment, the change in the human landscape and the role of material culture for the investigation of the topic. Particularly welcome will be those papers focusing on the transitional periods between a firm occupation and abandonment, the processes of abandonment causes and the post-abandonment formations and the human and social perception of a specific power hiatus. Different geographical areas might also help to have a wider perspective on the topic.

To sum up the proposed trajectories of the session will be:

  • How local territories/communities responded to the different causes of abandonment and what kind of archaeological traces can be used to determine its impact/level
  • Investigating the post-abandonment evidence through the archaeological record
  • Perception of continuity and adaptation in the power-lacked areas (re-occupation, transformation)
  • Material culture reliability for the analysis of the topic

Session Programme

This session is made up of six papers.

1. Courtyard Houses & Peristyle Mansions in Late Hellenistic/Early Roman Judaea
2. Abandonment, Transformation and Adaptation along the Rhine
3. On the decline of Myos Hormos
4. Abandonment and Revival between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
5. Continuity and Abandonment in Roman Cyprus
6. The Late Roman villa at Aiano (4th-7th cent. AD)
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