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An empire of 2000 cities: urban networks and economic integration in the Roman empire

Final Report Summary - EMPIREOF2000CITIES (An empire of 2000 cities: urban networks and economic integration in the Roman empire)

Within a period of five years the entire urban system of the Roman empire has been reconstructed, based on two different definitions of 'city' (juridical and functional). All existing data relating to city sizes in the Roman empire were collected, and the geographical distribution of large, medium-sized and small cities has been succesfully explained. While in many parts of the empire urban patterns were influenced by pre-Roman patterns, incorporation into the Roman empire had a profound impact on existing cities. Intriguingly, many parts of the empire show evidence of urban expansion, but the existing urban systems of Southern Italy, mainland Greece and Sicily were severely thinned out and streamlined in accordance with the new requirements of the political economy of the Roman empire. On the whole the findings the project support the view that the vast majority of cities were sustained by their immediate hinterlands, but the researchers involved in the project also found evidence that the creation of the Roman empire created favourable conditions for the growth of port cities and other well-connected cities, sometimes at the expense of cities which were situated in less favourable locations..