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The city of Rome

(670 words)

Author(s): Winkle, C.
The most striking topographical feature of Rome at first glance at this map is its riparian location. This guarantees water in abundance – an advantage which might rapidly have become a disadvantage had not nearby heights (spurs of a tufa plateau) provided refuge. And indeed, these were the first sites of settlement. However, the particular advantage of the location was neither water nor protection from it. It was the position on an important trade route leading from the salt flats at the Tiber …

Populus Romanus: the 4 urban and 31 rural tribus in Italy (c. 500–241 BC)

(1,181 words)

Author(s): Winkle, C. | Olshausen, E.
The term tribus denoted divisions, initially exclusively according to ethnic group, of the Roman people. Since the 6th cent. it had also always referred to their place of residence. Varro (Ling. 5,55) derives the term from the three tribes of the Tities, Ramnes and Luceres, but the etymology is uncertain. The tribus were named geographically, like the four urban tribus ( tribus urba-naePalatina, Esquilina, Collina, Suburana, cf. map C), or by gens (‘clan’), like the rural tribus Claudia, named after the Sabine Claudii, who migrated in in 504 BC. After the conquest of Cr…

Roman colonization

(2,151 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E. | Winkle, C.
I. Introduction It was certainly not a purpose of ancient ‘colonization’, as in the modern sense, to establish dominion over wide expanses of territory. Rather, the newly-established settlements were largely or entirely independent of the settlers’ home city in both economic and political terms. Roman colonization was an exception among colonization movements of the ancient world insofar as it served the primary purpose of militarily and politically securing Roman rule. Only in a secondary and lat…

The Byzantine theme system (7th – 9th cents. AD)

(1,435 words)

Author(s): Winkle, C. | Olshausen, E.
Heraclius (610-641), who acceded on the death of Phocas, would be another emperor who tightened the structures of the Empire and its society anew. And he it was (probably more so than his grandson Constans II (641–668)) who undertook a drastic administrative reorganization: the division of the Empire into military provinces, so-called themata or ‘themes’. The actual meaning of the word thema is disputed. It may have meant a ‘sphere of operations’ for particular army divisions that were transferred to Asia Minor in response to the loss of frontier territories. The themes were governed by s…