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The spatial conceptualization of power in the Roman Empire: Discovering the Lycian landscape of the 1st c. A.D.

Onur, Fatih

M. Nollé - P. M. Rothenhöfer - G. Schmied-Kowarzig - H. Schwarz - H. Ch. von Mosch (Hgg.), Panegyrikoi Logoi. Festschrift für Johannes Nollé zum 65. Geburtstag, Bonn 2019, 371-383.

Studies on Roman rule and its effects on the provinces have been presented under various aspects, for example through studying the administration of a province (governors and other Roman officials), its military garrisons (the deployment of legions, auxiliaries and military posts), its specific cults (e.g. Dea Roma, the emperor cult, and the cult of the Roman Senate), its monuments of art (imperial sculptures, portraits etc.) and architecture (especially aqueducts, baths, administrative buildings, urban infrastructure, roads), its economy (e.g. coinage, taxes, and customs duties), and its social classes (senators, equites, Roman citizens, the urban elites, etc.).
Amongst all of these possible approaches, road construction has been one of the most vital elements, since roads are the most important land based infrastructural means of connectivity, control and communication. Roads are essential for linking together all parts of a country. This was all the more important in a rugged landscape such as Lycia, in order to keep it united and to avoid the separation into single local units. A well-functioning road system was a requirement for a coordinated and functional administration, and last but not least for economic progress. Furthermore, there were many side-effects, unintended by the road-builders, but very important for historical developments. Roads supported the rapid spread of new ideas, habits, and cults and could find their way into even the most isolated mountain valleys. It is therefore hardly surprising that roads, which are a very important feature of Roman rule and administration, have been the subject of numerous essential studies.
A unique discovery in Lycia, the Patarean Monument, also known as Stadiasmus Patarensis, or “The Patarean Monument of Roads”, which dates from 46 A.D. and lists all the roads renovated during the reign of Claudius in the whole of Lycia  which has created a totally new context for answering several questions, but, at the same time has raised some new questions. Ancient Lycia roughly covers the area of the Teke peninsula of today, extending from Fethiye (ancient Telmessos) to the territory southwest of Antalya. Already in antiquity, this area was of great importance as a result of its very special historical development as well as its political structure (e.g. the Lycian League); this is also true in terms of connectivity, including both commerce and travel. Lycia possessed several good harbours, which formed an integral part of heavily frequented Mediterranean Sea routes connecting east and west; furthermore, these ports were the endpoints of important roads leading into the interior of Anatolia, routes which remained in use through the ages.

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