Project presentation

Roman colonization, one of the most important factors of Romanization and acculturation, has rarely been treated in specialist monographs. In fact, the concept of colonization has been studied in a larger framework of the phenomena mentioned above. The traditional way of research focuses on the positivist or quasi-positivist analysis of written sources (both literary and epigraphic) in the general context of Romanization or at least in one or more of its levels. In this respect we note the works of Ramsay MacMullen (Romanization in the time of Augustus, in C. B. Champion ed., Roman Imperialism. Reading and Sources, Malden-Oxford-Carlton 2003, 215-231) Susanne Pilhofer (Romanisierung in Kilikien? Das Zeugnis der Inschriften, Freiburg i. Breisgau 2006), Alasdair Watson (Religious acculturation and assimilation in Belgic Gaul and Aquitania from the Roman conquest until the end of the second century CE, Oxford 2007), Jaime Alvar Ezquerra (Romanizing oriental gods: myth, salvation and ethics in the cults of Cybele, Isis and Mithras, Leiden 2008).  Modern research approaches do not only entail interdisciplinary investigations, but propose an analysis based on differentiation and nuances regarding each aspect of Romanization and sometimes new patterns of Romanization. We mention only a few works, which present both archaeological and epigraphic approaches: Martin Millett, The Romanization of Britain, Oxford 1990; Greg Woolf, Becoming Roman. The Origin of Provincial Civilization in Gaul, Cambridge 1998; Greg Woolf, Romanisierung, in: Der Neue Pauly X, Stuttgart 2001. 1122-1127; ; Monique Dondin-Payre, Marie-Thèrese Raepsaet-Charlier eds., Noms, identités culturelles et romanisation sous le Haut-Empire, Bruxelles 2001; Richard Hingley, Recreating coherence without reinventing Romanisation, in A. D. Merryweather, J. Prag eds., “Romanisation”? Digressus. The internet journal of the Classical World, Suppl. 1, 111-119, 2003; Patrick Le Roux, La romanisation en question, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 59, 2, 2004, 287-311; Gezá Alföldy, Romanisation-Grundbegriff oder Fehlbegriff? Überlegungen zum gegenwärtigen Stand der Erforschung von Integrationsprozessen im römischen Weltreich, in Z. Visy ed., Limes XIX. proceedings of the XIXth  Congress of Roman Frontier Studies Held in Pécs, Pécs 2005, 25-56; Günther Schörner ed., Romanisierung-Romanisation: theoretische modelle und praktische Fallbeispiele, Oxford 2005; Ralph Häussler ed., Romanisation et épigraphie: etudes interdisciplinaires sur l’acculturation et l’identité dans l’Empire romain, Montagnac 2008; Claudia Dürrwächter, Time, space and innovation: an archaeological case study on the romanization of the North-Western Provinces (50 BC to AD 50, Oxford 2009; L. Revell, Roman Imperialism and Local Identities, Cambridge-New York 2009. For Moesia Inferior, the main works about Romanization and colonization follow the traditional positivist route of research (Alexandru Suceveanu, Istoria românilor, II, Bucharest 2001; Liviu Petculescu, The Roman Army as a Factor of Romanization in the North-Eastern Part of Moesia Inferior, in T. Bekker-Nielsen ed., Rome and the Black Sea Region: Domination, Romanisation, Resistance, Aarhus 2006, 31-41), even the non-destructive methods of archaeological prospections (for example) were already made for the neighbouring province of Dacia (Ioana A. Oltean, Roman Dacia: Landscape, Colonization, Romanization, London 2007), as well as some profound prosopographical analysis (Lucreţiu Mihailescu-Bîrliba, Ex toto orbe Romano: Immigration into Roman Dacia. With Prosopographical Observations on the Population of Dacia, Leuven-Paris-Walpole MA 2011).

The choice of this project was motivated by some preliminary analysis made by the director himself. Thus, studying the mentions of “Romans” at Istros, Lucreţiu Bîrliba, with Roxana Curcă, observed that in the city of Istros, the bearers of Roman names have in fact a Greek background, while in the rural territory of the city, the inscriptions mention Latin-speaking colonists (including Romanized Thracians) (cives Romani et Bessi consistentes). In the military settlements such as Troesmis or Novae, the colonists are Latin-speakers, but most of them are veterans of the legions (in these cases, V Macedonica and I Italica) and their origin is various (the prosopographic study reveals some spectacular cases, see Lucreţiu Mihailescu-Bîrliba, Valentin Piftor, Les familles d’Ancyre à Troesmis, in V. Cojocaru ed., Ethnic Contacts and Cultural Exchanges North and West of the Black Sea from the Greek Colonization  to the Ottoman Conquest, Iasi 2005, 331-337, or Lucreţiu Mihailescu-Bîrliba, Notes épigraphiques. Trois familles d’Oescus à Troesmis, Pontica 42, 2009, 385-388). One explanation of this heterogenous situation is bilingualism (the Greek cities and the Roman ones), but it is not the only one. In the civilian milieu, there are two settlement types: the Greek cities (the ancient Greek colonies, located on the Black Sea Coast) and the Roman towns (located in the continental Moesia Inferior and partially on the Danube line). In the case of the Greek cities, the situation is, from an epigraphic point of view, ambivalent: in the city itself, the Roman colonists are less remarkable, in the territory, the Roman colonization is more visible; while in the Greek cities, archaeology reveals the Roman life style (through its urbanism). The civilian Roman settlements present, both from archaeological and epigraphic points of view, a strong Romanization: the inscriptions mention Latin-speaking colonists and only a few archaeological excavations in their rural territories revealed some ancient villae. In the military milieu, the Roman towns are located (almost) exclusively on the Danube line, in connection with the new strategy adopted by Trajan after the first Dacian war (see the excellent PhD Thesis of Florian Matei-Popescu, Armata romană în Moesia Inferior – The Roman Army in Lower Moesia, Mss., Bucharest 2009). The colonists are mostly Latin-speaking, but a deep prosopographical analysis can establish the origin, the moment, the circumstances and sometimes the motivations of their movement to Moesia Inferior. Of course, these observations are only preliminary. They impose the two main goals of our research: to deepen the prosopographical analysis at the level of all colonists of the province, and to begin a non-destructive archaeological investigation into the rural milieu of Moesia Inferior (using especially the vegetation scanner and the total station). In this respect, the exploratory character and the new aspects of our project appear clearly: we assume that we can  create an exhaustive image of colonization in Moesia Inferior, tracing the main differences between the civilian and rural settlements. Therefore, we can point out the succession and the differences between  colonization in civilian and military milieux and propose a model of Roman colonization for the limes provinces, as well as for the bilingual provinces of the Roman Empire.