BMCR 2011.11.10

Militärsiedlungen und Territorialherrschaft in der Antike. Topoi: Berlin studies of the ancient world, 3

, Militärsiedlungen und Territorialherrschaft in der Antike. Topoi: Berlin studies of the ancient world, 3. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2011. viii, 158. ISBN 9783110222838. $112.00.

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The important interdisciplinary research center Topoi: The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations started in 2005 and now involves more than 200 researchers focused on five research areas that investigate ancient civilizations from the 6th millennium B.C. to Late Antiquity. This intense scientific activity is reflected in the impressive number of workshops and conferences organized. In 2008 four conferences and workshops were held, in 2009 28, in 2010 43, and in 2011 the total will be 35, making a total of 115.

The present book contains seven papers from the interdisciplinary workshop “Militärsiedlungen und Territorialherrschaft in der Antike” held on 20-21 June 2008. In fact, two of the papers presented there (Rubina Raja, “Hellenistic military foundations in southern Syria: myth or reality?” and Andreas Oettel, “Wohnen am mesopotamischen Limes – spätrömische Herrschaftskonzepte jenseits des Euphrats”) were not included in the book, but they are briefly presented by Daubner in his introductory paper.

Frank Daubner’s introductory study, “Militärsiedlungen und Territorialherrschaft in der Antike. Anstöße und Perspektiven” (p. 1-18), is a general presentation of the conference, with details on each contribution. He explains the necessity of this type of research which spans a long period of time, starting from the realities in Sicily in the fourth century B.C. until the Roman expansion at the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire. It is an invitation to a dialogue between archaeologists and ancient historians who focus their research on similar topics.

Alexander Nuss in his article “Dionysios I. und die Gründung von Tyndaris—ein Beleg für die Etablierung der Territorialherrschaft auf Sizilien im 4. Jahrhundert v. Chr.” outlines the strategic importance and strategic position of the colony of Tyndaris in the fourth century B.C. Using the literary sources (Diodorus, Pliny) and archaeological data, Nuss investigates the central role played by the city of Tyndaris, which was created in 396 B.C. and gradually gained military and strategic importance because of its position.

Frank Daubner in his article “Seleukidische und attalidische Gründungen in West-kleinasien — Datierung, Funktion und Status” investigates the problem of the so-called military colonies from the Seleucid Empire and compares them with the Macedonian settlements from Lydia. He discusses three important premises which have developed over time, which are, in his opinion, unsustainable: ” 1. Nach 315 hat keine nennenswerte Emigration aus Makedonien mehr stattgefunden; 2. Makedon verkommt in hellenistischer Zeit zur reinen Berufsbezeichnung; 3. Die Attaliden waren allem Makedonischen feind” (p. 50). He clearly demonstrates with solid arguments that because of their different historical, geographical and ethnic backgrounds, the settlements of these two regions developed differently.

In her study “Formen ptolemäischer Präsenz in der Ägäis zwischen schriftlicher Überlieferung und archäologischem Befund”, Eva Winter, using information from both literary sources and archaeological finds, classifies the settlements in the Aegean area into three categories. The first groups the cities Arsinoe, Berenike, Philadelphia und Ptolemais. No fewer than 28 settlements are attested by literary sources with these names.1 These settlements are positioned along the southern coast of Asia Minor. In the second category Winter includes the cities with Ptolemaic garrisons, such as Thera, Koressos, Itanos or Methana. In the third category the cities with short-term Ptolemaic presence are included (Rhamnous, Helioupolis, Koroni, Vouliagmeni).

In his article on “Sulla’s Veteran Settlement Policy”, Alexander Thein discusses the “garrison theory” developed in recent scholarship regarding Sulla’s veteran policy. His conclusion is that it was only after the civil war that Sulla implemented this garrison policy and that “the rationale of his veteran policy was the provision of land as a reward for past loyalty, not as a quid pro quo for continued service in garrison colonies” (p. 96).

Holger Wienholz tried to answer the question: “War Baalbek/Heliopolis im 1. Jh. V. Chr. Ein römischer Stützpunkt?” using both literary sources (Strabo, Flavius Josephus) and archaeological data. According to Strabo (16, 2, 19) before the foundation of the city of Heliopolis there had been a military base. Wienholz also notes that Flavius Josephus (14, 3, 2) mentions Heliopolis when he describes the route taken by Pompey from Pella to Damascus. He then presents the achaeological discoveries to sustain his argument and concludes that “Faßt man all die hier vorgestellten Überlegungen zusammen, so ergibt sich folgendes Bild: Seit Pompeius hat es römische Aktivitäten in Baalbek gegeben” (p. 112).

In his article “Köln und Xanten: römische Frontstädte am Rhein”, Peter Rothenhöfer discusses the history of the two important cities along the Rhine: Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium and Colonia Ulpia Traiana. These two important settlements were created in a geographical space dominated by the Romans, and Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium was the first city named after a woman, Agrippina, born here in 15 A.D. The author investigates the strategic measures undertaken by Claudius to organize and defend the limes in this area. He also observes that during the Batavian revolt in the year of four emperors, the veterans who settled here, who were not fully Romanised, quickly sided with the Batavians. So, the development of this city from its first status of oppidum Ubiorum to colonia, was, in Rothenhöfer’s opinion, “letztlich der einmaligen Konstellation im Kaiserhaus sowie dem Ehrgeiz und Streben nach Prestige Agrippinas zu verdanken” (p. 125-126). In the other case, Rothenhöfer concludes that “auch im Falle der Gründung der Colonia Ulpia Traiana dürften die Ursachen in den Ereignissen um die Person Traians — speziell hinsichtlich seines Machtantritts — zu suchen sein” (p. 126). (Rothenhöfer might also have used Colonia Ulpia Augusta Traiana Dacica Sarmizegetusa as a comparison, where Trajan brought a large number of veterans who played an important role in the development of the city.)

Axel Filges succeeds in providing a deep analysis regarding “Lebensorte in der Fremde. Versuch einer Bewertung der römisch-kleinasiatischen Kolonien von Caesar bis Diokletian”. He focused his research on six aspects: “1. Die Phasen römischer Koloniegründungen und deren Hintergründe; 2. Anlässe und Ziele römischer Koloniegründungen allgemein und in Kleinasien; 3. Die Vorgeschichte der kleinasiatischen Kolonien und ihre Einbettung in Mikro- und Makroregionen; 4. Größenverhältnisse und Bedeutung der Kolonien im Überblick; 5. Vom Soldaten zum Bauern und vom Stadtbürger zum Nichtbürger? Coloni und incolae in erster, zweiter und späterer Generation; 6. Zum Selbstverständnis kleinasiatischer Kolonien und der Wechselwirkung von Kolonie und Raum ” (p. 131). The author provides a fine analysis, a useful tool for future investigations of this type.

This important book provides new methods of research. Only by using all the data can we actually understand how territories were conquered and administered, and how people were integrated into their own landscapes or the other parts of the world in which they lived. The results of this enterprise are impressive. This volume will act as an important reference point for future studies concerning the military settlements and the territorial domination in the antique world. I look forward to further publications of the results of the TOPOI scientific activities.


1.Zu den 28 Städten zählen 14 Siedlungen namens Arsinoe, viermal ist der Name Berenike vertreten, zweimal wird Philadelphia als Siedlungsname gewählt, und es sind acht Orte namens Ptolemais überliefert. Nicht alle Siedlungen wurden bislang lokalisiert, oft ist von ihnen wenig mehr al seine einmalige Namensnennungbwkannt ” (note 1, p. 65).